Hernandez departs for Sevilla

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Javier Hernandez

West Ham have confirmed the departure of Javier Hernandez to Sevilla, with the Mexican ending his underwhelming two-season spell in east London.

The 31-year-old joined the Hammers from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2017, returning to the Premier League following a couple of years in the Bundesliga.

Prior to that ‘Chicharito’ had won two Premier League titles with Manchester United, while he also played a crucial role in the Red Devils’ run to the Champions League final in 2010-11, eventually going down 3-1 to Pep Guardiola’s imperious Barcelona.

After an excellent maiden season at Old Trafford, Hernandez found chances harder to come by due to the emergence of Danny Welbeck and the signing of Robin van Persie and sought pastures new in 2015, heading to Leverkusen after a season on loan at Real Madrid after being deemed surplus to requirements by Louis van Gaal.

His signing by the Hammers was expected to get the team back on track after a tough 2016-17. However, even then, questions were immediately asked as to where he was going to fit into the line-up.

While at United, Hernandez always played his best football as part of a duo, preferring to link up with a fellow forward rather than plough a lone furrow. At that time, West Ham’s best option for that role was Andy Carroll but the former Newcastle man’s injury woes meant he rarely featured alongside the Mexican in what could have proved a classic little and large combination.

Furthermore, playing two up front did not seem to be in then-boss Slaven Bilic’s grand plan considering Marko Arnautovic had signed from Stoke two days before. Back then, Arnautovic played as a left winger and with his reluctance to even consider tracking back, such a luxury player was always going to require extra protection. To add into that, West Ham’s best player was and probably still is Manuel Lanzini – where was he going to fit in if Bilic planned to play a strike duo?

It meant that under the Croatian, replacement David Moyes and current coach Manuel Pellegrini, Hernandez failed to hold down a regular spot. When he did start as a sole striker, his inability to play up top alone was exposed, with his failure to hold the ball up often leading to extra pressure being placed on an already creaky defence.

This could also open a new debate. All 53 of Hernandez’s Premier League goals have come from inside the box and is a rare breed in the modern game – an out-and-out poacher who cannot play out wide. Are the days of these players now gone?

A return of just 17 goals in 63 games was inadequate for a player of his talent. The club-record signing of Sebastien Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt meant Hernandez was always going to struggle for minutes and even though another new boy, Albian Ajeti, is yet to convince, the club has decided to let him go.

To be fair to the Guadalajara-born striker, he did keep plugging away until the end and scored in his final appearance for the club, a 1-1 Premier League draw at Brighton & Hove Albion on August 17.

From Hernandez’s point of view, it is hardly a surprise that he has moved on, having been pushing for an exit for much of the summer. Although things did not work out for him during his year at Real, the slower pace of the game and limited physicality of La Liga is likely to benefit him.

Los Rojiblancos have been looking out for a new forward following Wissam Ben Yedder’s departure to Monaco. With Europa League football to look forward to, Hernandez will get plenty of chances to shine as he battles with fellow new arrivals Moanes Dabbur and Luuk de Jong for the opportunity to lead the line.

One thing is for sure. Most of the West Ham fans will wish Hernandez well.

Chicharito’s commitment to the cause could never be questioned. However, it seems as if it was just a case of the wrong club at the wrong time and maybe even the wrong era for the Little Pea and he will now start anew at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

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