Javier Hernandez to West Ham: Track record guarantees goalsBet365
West Ham have agreed to sign Javier Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen but what will the former Manchester United striker bring to the team? Adam Bate examines the stats of a proven goalscorer and wonders whether he will be able to deliver more of the same for Slaven Bilic…
West Ham’s long search for a quality striker is over with the acquisition of Javier Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen and the club’s fans are likely to feel content that the Mexico international ticks plenty of the required boxes. The man they call Chicharito is a forward with proven pedigree who can be expected to adapt quickly on his Premier League return.
That is not to say that this is a signing without some concerns. Even in this inflated market there are those who will wonder whether a near £20m fee for a 29-year-old whose pace remains a key asset represents a gamble in the medium term. But the currency that really matters to Slaven Bilic is goals – and that is something that Hernandez is used to trading in.
West Ham had problems in this regard last season, scoring only 47 times. No player reached double figures. That Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini topped the list underlines the point that the strikers struggled. Andy Carroll’s fitness remains an issue, Jonathan Calleri laboured without success and Ashley Fletcher failed to take his limited opportunities.
Hernandez can be expected to do rather better. Consistency is a curious term to ascribe to a player who went 16 appearances without scoring over the winter having netted 19 times over the same period of games just one year earlier, but the long-term trend throughout his time in Europe is impressive. When given the chance, Hernandez tends to score.
His 72 top-flight goals for Manchester United, Real Madrid and Leverkusen came at a rate of one every 134 minutes. That is top class and will encourage Bilic to believe that if he puts Hernandez on the pitch then goals will come. For context, given the minutes of any of the top dozen scorers in last season’s Premier League, that rate would result in at least 18 goals.
Nobody has scored that many in a season for West Ham in the Premier League era.
One problem is the feeling that Hernandez is better suited to an impact role from the bench and it is true that these statistics are massaged by his goals as a substitute. Fourteen of his Premier League strikes were scored after coming on – at a rate of one every 76 minutes. But his efforts at Leverkusen show that he can be the main man too.
His first season in Germany was also the only year of his career in Europe in which he played more than 60 per cent of the possible minutes. He responded with 17 Bundesliga goals – the fourth best in the competition that season behind Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the Bayern Munich duo of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller.
As a result, Hernandez is entitled to feel he is returning to England having enhanced his reputation. The super-sub tag has been shed. For clarity, even if only starting minutes are counted, Hernandez has still scored 55 top-flight goals at a rate of one every 147 minutes. Better than, for example, Diego Costa’s goalscoring record at Chelsea last season.
Of course, the bigger question mark facing Hernandez is whether he can replicate those numbers while playing in a relatively weaker team than the ones he has been used to. This is a player who thrives inside the box and the only teams still in the division who had fewer touches in the opposition area than West Ham last season are West Brom and Burnley.
That needs to change and the onus is on Bilic to construct a side that complements his game. There are signs that it could happen. Marko Arnautovic offers presence from the left, while only two players in the league scored more headed goals than right-wing option Antonio. With those two in support and Lanzini in behind, Hernandez could feed off them.
Even so, he still faces a difficult test. Fellow poacher and another ex-Manchester United and Madrid man Michael Owen, a one-time team-mate of Hernandez’s at Old Trafford, certainly did not relish the experience of dropping down to play for mid-table Stoke City at the age of 32. Chasing defenders on the halfway line is not where penalty-box experts like to be.
But there is reason to expect Hernandez to approach the challenge with rather more gusto. If the body is willing then expect the mind to be too. His attitude has always been good and West Ham are not only getting a quality goalscorer but a player now accustomed to defending from the front under Roger Schmidt and his well-regarded pressing game.
„He is a very important player for us because he scores goals,“ said the former Leverkusen boss. „Not only that, he also works hard for the team.“ That echoes the view of ex-Manchester United team-mate and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville. „He just seems to have a single-mindedness in front of goal, but also that unselfish work ethic.“ said Neville.
One suspects that will do for West Ham and their supporters. Forget the talk of resale value. This is a team in need of a quality forward now. One that was even linked with 34-year-old Jermain Defoe earlier in the summer. They have done rather better than that. Expect Javier Hernandez and his goals to make a big difference for West Ham this coming season.Euro Soccer Bonus
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