Javier Hernandez has completed his surprise loan to Real Madrid, finally ending his Manchester United struggles after a summer of speculation.
United confirmed the deal, which provides Madrid with cover for Karim Benzema, on their Twitter account:
BREAKING: Javier Hernandez joins Real Madrid on a season-long loan. Real have first buying option on the striker at the end of the loan.— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 1, 2014
Madrid later provided photographic evidence of Hernandez's capture:
Nicholas Rigg of AS tweeted the first images of Hernandez in the white of Madrid:
Hernandez has struggled to find a place at Old Trafford in recent times, but he will be looking forward to establishing his career with the European champions. At 26 years old, Chicharito has the ability to make a major impact in Carlo Ancelotti's side after a desperate run of form with the Red Devils.
Having signed with United before the World Cup in 2010, Hernandez's initial burst of form took many by surprise when he finally linked up with the Premier League side. He scored 13 goals in 27 appearances during his initial campaign while also netting three goals in five Champions League ties, per WhoScored.com.
Hernandez managed to keep netting during the 2011-12 domestic run, once again hitting double figures with 10 in 28 appearances. He failed to score in Europe's elite competition that year, but he followed the season with another 10 in 22 Premier League displays.
The likable striker began to find the net in the Champions League with a trio of strikes in six games during 2012-13, but last year signalled the beginning of his major downfall. David Moyes was unable to get the best out of a player whose concentration seemed to wane, perhaps due to his inability to hold down a place in the first team.
Hernandez's overall game has become extremely frustrating and laden with misjudgements. Under Moyes, he scored four Premier League goals in 24 matches, and he failed to add to his total in European fixtures.
Those numbers are unacceptable for a player who possesses his finishing quality. Hernandez is a scorer of subtle goals, an instinct striker who lurks inside the box to add a telling touch. Once his sharpness disappeared, his lack of physical presence and his sloppiness on the ball left him way below the quality needed to maintain a starting role with United.
That was best exhibited during the recent losses to Swansea and Milton Keynes Dons. The opposing sides were able to easily sweep Hernandez aside in crowding him out, an occurrence that was particularly worrying against the League One side.
Football writer Rich Laverty wondered why a top side would plump for the striker after this display, amid links to Juventus:
I mean, surely Juve can't have seen that tonight and thought 'Yep, that Hernandez will do for us.'— Rich Laverty (@RichJLaverty) August 26, 2014
However, Madrid need striking cover. Benzema is their only genuine out-and-out striker after the sale of Alvaro Morata, so Hernandez will give them a decent option off the bench.
The move will provide him with the opportunity to re-establish both his club and his national career. Mexico boss Miguel Herrera said a transfer "would be a nice change" for Hernandez, per ESPN.co.uk. Herrera dropped Hernandez from his starting lineup at the World Cup, an almost unthinkable decision before he sustained a run of poor form.
Hernandez is arguably swapping one bench for another, although the change of scenery and style of football may help him return to his best.
Still, this move signals a new chapter for a player who can make a real difference when firing on all cylinders. His loan works in everybody's interest after Little Pea was deemed surplus to requirements under Louis van Gaal.
Hernandez is the type of player who can ensure his previous boss is left regretting the decision to let him leave. He needs to quickly find the mark under Ancelotti's tutelage if he is to enjoy the consistent first-team football needed to rekindle his place in the El Tri lineup that impressed without him in Brazil.