Signing of the summer: Chicharito to West Ham

Signing of the summer: Chicharito to West Ham

23 Jul 2017, 14:30

Javier Hernandez's first goal for Manchester United seven years ago is a thing of strange beauty. Thirty minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute, 'Chicharito' hares into the box to get on the end of Antonio Valencia's cross, but such is his enthusiasm that he slightly over-runs the ball.

Instinctively, the debutant Hernandez checks his stride and digs out a shot that cannoned off his face and into the back of the net. It may only be the Community Shield, he may have inadvertently booted the ball in off his face, but the Mexican looks as delighted as a man who has just scored the winner in the World Cup final.

It was a pattern that would replay itself again and again for Hernandez during his four years in the United first team between 2010 and 2014. Of the 59 goals he scored for the club, every single one was inside the box, 52 were first-time finishes, the majority prompted a guilty-looking glance at the linesman, and almost all were celebrated with the zeal of an eight-year-old scoring in the playground against the year above.

This is why West Ham should be so excited about their £20m capture of Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen. They are not just getting a striker with the fifth best minutes per goal ratio in Premier League history.

They have signed a sugar-rush of a player, a forward whose infectious enthusiasm can give everyone at the club a lift.

Hernandez's gift is in making goals look ridiculously easy to score. Because the vast majority of his goals are from only a few yards out, he makes you think "surely, I could do that". Then you study his movement and realise he possesses almost superhuman spatial awareness and anticipation to find space. How else can you explain the regularity with which he scores headed goals when surrounded by defenders more than six inches taller than him?

Now 29 years old, Hernandez returns to a different Premier League. More teams are playing with two up front, and others have found ways of getting the best of a smaller striker - Jermain Defoe or Alexis Sanchez for instance - through the middle. Chicharito will trust that Slaven Bilic will be similarly imaginative at West Ham, or perhaps we will see a little and large pairing for the ages in Hernandez and Andy Carroll.

However he does it, if Bilic can get the best out of Hernandez then the Mexican will prove to be an almighty snip in a summer of Premier League clubs paying astronomical transfer fees for star strikers.

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