Javier Hernandez is seemingly linked with a move away from Manchester United every time a new transfer window comes around and if the latest reports are to be believed, 2014 will be no different.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo (via Metro) believes Atletico Madrid are eyeing the Mexican striker as a potential replacement for Diego Costa, who The Independent's Gordon Tynan reports is Chelsea's primary target for the upcoming summer transfer window.
Hernandez has never been more than a super-sub for Manchester, so the steady stream of clubs linked with the Mexican forward is understandable. Just last month, Eduardo Hernandez, the player's agent, had to deny rumours linking Hernandez with Inter Milan, as reported by Calciomercato.it (via Sky Sports' Simone Bargellini):
I think these are just rumours. I have no news of Inter and Manchester United have not let me know anything about a possible offer.
The same goes for the other teams that have been linked to my client, to date there is nothing concrete.
When asked about a potential move, the agent remained vague, however:
Currently, we are not able to say it because we should talk with United, the club with whom Javier still has several years of the contract.
At the moment we have not planned any meetings with the Red Devils.
His vagueness is understandable, as it is becoming increasingly clear a move away from Manchester is Hernandez's best option at this stage of his career, and the Red Devils should oblige.
Hernandez has built a reputation as a super-sub in recent years, often scoring vital goals for United coming off the bench. But the 2013-14 season has seen his scoring form nosedive, with just four goals scored in 25 total appearances, per WhoScored.com.
Those numbers can be partly explained by the fact the Red Devils have struggled as a team. No one has truly shined, but three goals in 18 appearances as a substitute is still pedestrian for a super-sub, struggling team or not.
Hernandez has shown himself to be a very capable player with the Mexican national team, and his skill set is that of a starting striker on a good, maybe even great team. At the age of 25, he is also just hitting his prime years, which should not be wasted sitting on the bench.
But the striker has been with the club since 2010 and in those four years he has been unable to convince management he has what it takes to start for this club. With Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney as the unquestioned starters and Danny Welbeck as the primary backup, Hernandez won't ascend to the role of top dog anytime soon.
Stretty News' Dale O'Donnell underlined Hernandez's position within the club with this tweet:
And then there's James Wilson, the highly-touted youngster who is widely expected to be the team's future at the striker position.
At 5'8", Hernandez lacks the prototypical build of a striker in the English Premier League, but his quick feet and excellent vision would make him an excellent fit in La Liga.
The Red Devils are going through a transition as the club has struggled in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era and part of such a transition is finding out who the difference-makers are on your squad. Hernandez clearly is not, and after four years, it's highly doubtful he'll ever develop into a player that could consistently start for this team.
With reinforcements needed in other parts of the squad (some muscle in the centre of the park and fresh legs out wide, for example), moving a striker with little future left at the club is a logical move.
Sure, Hernandez could revert back to being a valuable asset off the bench but such a role would not be the best for the Mexican's career, and his demeanor this season has at least been part of a lack of productivity in recent months. An unhappy striker often is an unproductive striker
And with the 2013-14 season already a lost one for the Red Devils, now is the time for change.
Allowing Hernandez to leave for greener pastures would be a move beneficial for all parties involved, giving the striker the opportunity to prove he has what it takes to start at a different club and opening up space for a new player to come in for United, one who perhaps can help the team more moving forward.
Hernandez has had some great moments in Manchester, but sometimes, people just have to move on. And heading into the summer transfer window, that time has come for El Chicharito.