Javier Hernandez is Germany's player of the month again - so why is he not at Manchester United?
Published 01/01/2016 | 15:06
Ex-Manchester United striker, Javier Hernandez, has been voted Bundesliga Player of the Month for two months in a row, having scored seven goals in his last five games for Bayer Leverkusen.
The Mexican, much loved by fans at Old Trafford, was sold for £12million in the summer by Louis Van Gaal as the Dutchman looked to rebuild his squad, deeming Chicharito surplus to requirements despite only having Wayne Rooney and James Wilson as recognised strikers at the time.
Since his move to Germany, Hernandez has been in astonishing form, netting 19 goals in 22 appearances (including two as a sub), making the decision to let him leave look suspiciously like a mistake by Van Gaal as his side continues to toil in front of goal. Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are United's top scorers in all competitions this season with seven goals each - Hernandez has scored more than both combined.
Fingers can be pointed at United's decision to sell the free scoring Mexican, but it is unlikely Van Gaal's ponderous style of play would have yielded the same goal return. There's an argument to be made that the problem at United is not so much the quality of striker as the number of chances being created for players in goalscoring situations.
The reasoning behind the transfer also made some sense at the time with the £36million arrival of Anthony Martial and the ambition to develop James Wilson further. Since the summer though, Martial has been shunted out to the wing for large parts of games and Wilson has performed well. On loan at Brighton.
The mystery thickens.
Or does it? Tactically, Hernandez doesn't suit the kind of play that Van Gaal prefers and there is a reason he has enjoyed such success in the Bundesliga. At Leverkusen, Hernandez plays upfront as a part of a two man partnership alongside Stefan Kiessling - Kiessling is the target man, Hernandez the poacher - and it has worked exceptionally well.
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At United, Hernandez was expected to play as a lone striker, which requires the forward to play with his back to goal, hold up the ball and combine with teammates. Hernandez's strengths lie in playing off the shoulder of a defender and pouncing on chances in the box - those rarely seen moments at Old Trafford this season - and would not, in Van Gaal's original vision of the season, have had a chance to play in an attacking two.
That said, United need to score goals if they are to rescue the dramatic slump in form they have suffered since December and Hernandez looks like the kind of player the team is crying out for. Though he did not agitate for a move, Hernandez was told by Van Gaal he had only a "one per cent chance" of playing for United in 2015/16, prompting the transfer to Germany after five years at Old Trafford and an arguably successful spell at Real Madrid last season.
Hernandez told Spanish TV show Fiebre Maldini: "I didn't have the intention to leave but I wanted more playing time. Van Gaal told me that he already had his strikers, that I would have to fight for a place but could take an offer if an opportunity arrives. The board told me that I could go on loan to Real Madrid and it was not a difficult decision for me."