Javier Hernandez, fabled super-sub and scorer of vital goals, no longer has a place at Manchester United.
The likable Mexican—who has never managed to nail down a consistent starting spot at the Red Devils—has largely shown himself to be surplus to requirements since David Moyes took over at Old Trafford.
As ever, the occasional highlight threatens to blot this analysis. Hernandez's match-winning goal in the Capital One Cup tie with Liverpool and brace against Norwich in the same competition mark decent performances, but in the Premier League and Champions League, the 25-year-old offers very little to United's attack.
Moyes appears to have noticed this, too. Hernandez has started a slew of recent games in the absence of Robin van Persie, reported by David Lynch of the Manchester Evening News, but he is often rendered ineffective when lining up from the off in major competitions.
Despite the Dutchman's continued absence, Hernandez was dropped in favour of an additional midfielder against Bayer Leverkusen and replaced by Danny Welbeck against Tottenham. He managed just 17 minutes across either game, highlighting a waning influence.
Hernandez managed 22 touches during his 73 minutes in the 2-2 draw with Cardiff City, the lowest of any starting player, reported by WhoScored.com. Similarly, he also managed the lowest influence with just 16 touches in the 0-0 draw with Real Sociedad, a number Xabi Prieto matched after 17 minutes on the pitch.
While Chicharito is best remembered for missing an open goal in that tie, his spectral performances are of far greater concern than his finishing ability, which remains distinguished.
The former Guadalajara player is often likened to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when coming off the bench to score, but United's legendary Norwegian eventually managed to influence games from the start, something Hernandez appears less capable of doing with every passing match.
He is an instinctive player, one who makes intelligent runs and often pops up in the box to tap home. Unfortunately, Hernandez's slight frame, lack of height and unimposing presence often leaves him chasing possession rather than winning it. He will avidly run, but so would an overexcited puppy.
A lack of effort isn't the problem here, Hernandez cannot be faulted in that department. The complication is that, now he has stopped scoring outside of the Capital One Cup, United fans can no longer hold an impenetrable barrier in front of an individual who supposedly deserves more chances.
Much like Shinji Kagawa's recent push to his favoured No. 10 role, these opportunities have to be earned. Aside from his aforementioned strengths that naturally lead to simple goalscoring chances, it's extremely difficult to pinpoint what Hernandez offers his teammates in terms of creativity, holding the ball up or extensive influence across a few weeks of play.
As such, he is rapidly losing his importance in a team that is slowly progressing into the Moyes mould: one striker, a floating No. 10 and two players creating width on the flanks.
With versatile forwards such as Marco Reus being linked to the club, any attacking additions in January will likely see Hernandez pushed further down the pecking order, per Charles Perrin of the Express.
Is it time for Manchester United to sell Javier Hernandez?
Hernandez has done nothing to suggest he will ever fit into this role as more than a bit-part player or heir to RVP and Wayne Rooney.
He is a commendable striker, someone who has provided United with tremendous service since joining in 2010, but his stock is finally dipping through a lack of output.
The striker's potential departure would certainly amount to an extremely sad day for everyone involved, but now is the right time to capture funds from his sale.
Hernandez is more than capable of making an impact wherever he goes, and six months away from his 26th birthday, he needs the chance to capitalise on his potential.
Unfortunately for Little Pea and United, that isn't going to happen at Old Trafford.