All Signs Point to Manchester United Exit for Javier Hernandez

Stuart Howard-Cofield@@grumpyoldfan99Featured ColumnistMay 23, 2014

Javier Hernandez
Javier HernandezAlex Livesey/Getty Images

Javier Hernandez is currently focused on playing for Mexico in the FIFA World Cup next month, but his continued presence in the English Premier League for next season remains in doubt.

Eyebrows were raised back in 2010 when Manchester United signed Javier Hernandez from Club Deportivo Guadalajara (Chivas). His performances for Mexico in the World Cup that summer, though, scoring twice, gave a hint that United might have struck gold.

The young Mexican would make an immediate impact for the Red Devils, scoring an unlikely goal in the 3-1 defeat of Chelsea in the FA Community Shield. Sliding in on goal to connect to an Antonio Valencia cross, Hernandez somehow managed to score by blasting the ball into his own face, seeing it ricochet into the net.

The beaming smile that followed was to become a regular sight over the rest of Chicharito's debut season at the club. His record of 20 goals from 45 appearances was enough to earn him recognition as Manchester United fans' Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year.

Further success with the national team saw his stock rise, and just over a year after signing for United he was rewarded with a new five-year contract. A bright future at the club appeared to lie ahead. And yet, it hasn't quite worked out like that.

Niggling injuries and the emergence of Danny Welbeck initially contributed to Hernandez finding game time harder to come by. Welbeck is a similar player in some ways. A busy and energetic goal poacher, he also possesses the ability and willingness to patrol the wings as Sir Alex Ferguson often asked him to. Robin van Persie's arrival did nothing to help Chicharito's need to be in the starting lineup.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United competes for the ball with George McCartney of West Ham during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at Boleyn Ground on March 22, 2014 in London,
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

It could also be argued that his reputation as a "super-sub" also undermined his position. When in desperate need of a goal, Hernandez would so often come off the bench and terrorise tired defences with his lightning reflexes and anticipatory movement. A goal would seem almost inevitable.  

Hernandez has a wonderful affinity with the United supporters, but after four seasons at the club, his influence on the team is diminishing. He was used sparingly by the ill-fated David Moyes last season, managing just six starts; clearly cast as the fourth-choice striker.

That situation will surely have made the player start to consider his future, especially when it is clear that there is no shortage of clubs that would value his services. At different stages over the last season he has been linked with the likes of Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Aston Villa.

Sky Sports' Paulo Freitas reports that Mexico manager Miguel Herrera has urged his prolific striker to leave Manchester, believing that "it'd be in his interest to leave so he is taken into consideration to play."

Although he will be aware of the implied threat behind those words, the player himself has stated solely that he is focused on Mexico at the moment.

"My future could be decided tomorrow, a little after or within three months. (I could) stay there (in Manchester), I really don't know." Javier Hernandez

May 31, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Mexico forward Javier Hernandez (14) celebrates scoring his second goal against Nigeria during the second half at Reliant Stadium. Nigeria and Mexico played to a 2-2 draw. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

There has been little indication from incoming manager Louis van Gaal as to what plans he has for United's forwards so far. His working relationship with Robin van Persie for the Dutch national squad would suggest that he will stay at the club. One would also expect that Wayne Rooney will still have a big part to play at Old Trafford.

Javier Hernandez has remained loyal to Manchester United for a longer period than many players might have done, given the circumstances. Should he remain at United for another season, it would surely mean long spells on the sidelines again. All signs appear to point toward the exit door for this most popular of players.