From Where: Sevilla
To Where: LA Galaxy
For How Much: $9.4M USD (and he’ll earn $6M-a-year, plus incentives)
Grade For LA Galaxy: B-
Grade for Sevilla: B
CHICHARITO TO LA GALAXY OVERVIEW
From a marketing standpoint, this move is an absolute home run, or A+, or however you prefer to refer to a massive victory. In terms of global popularity, Chicharito is one of the biggest names in the sport, and is probably as beloved in Mexico as anyone.
But is this move about how many tickets and jerseys he’ll help sell – it’s a safe bet that this will ramp up Galaxy’s sponsorship appeal as well, but you get the picture – or is it about finding a world-class star to fill the shoes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Galaxy and MLS fans seem fired up, even if most would likely admit he won’t be matching Zlatan’s absurd output the last couple seasons. With no futher ado, let’s look at exactly who Javier Hernandez is, and what he offers, in 2020.
WHO IS HE?
We detailed Chicharito’s career accomplishments here, so let’s focus on the last few seasons for the 31-year-old, particularly his abbreviated ’19-20 campaign with Sevilla.
After scoring double-digit goals for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in both ’15-16 and ’16-17, he moved to West Ham for the ’17-18 season. He played well for the Hammers the last two years (eight EPL goals in ’17-18, seven in ’18-19) before leaving the London club for Sevilla in September.
It’s his lack of an impact for Sevilla that makes me question whether he’s still an elite player. If he had struggled to get minutes for Barcelona or Real Madrid behind those teams’ elite forwards, that would have been one thing.
At Sevilla, his team was not counting on him, as he made just nine appearances – four starts and five appearances off the bench – and played 90 minutes all of one time, vs. Osasuna on December 9. Unsurprisingly, he finished his brief Sevilla tenure with just one goal in La Liga. His last La Liga appearance in red and white was on December 15.
Back to my concern over who was ahead of him in the line-up. Sevilla has just one player with over three goals through their first 20 games (Lucas Ocampos, with five). They needed finishing in a bad way and didn’t think he was the answer. If he couldn’t beat out the likes of Ocampos, Franco Vázquez, Luuk de Jong, Munir El Haddadi, Óliver Torres, etc., what level is he really at in 2020? (No disrespect to those players, but they’re not exactly established commodities).
IS THE PRICE FAIR?
Does the production above scream, “Let’s spend nearly $10M for his services”?? Didn’t think so. Again, there is good reason to open up your wallet for a brand like Chicharito, but I’ll believe he’s capable of dominating a decent league when I see it. I will admit that from what little MLS I’ve seen, opportunities for gifted attackers are abundant, but still. For what you’re getting from a purely on-field perspective, $9.4M is awful steep.
WHAT IMPACT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
All that being said, he’s going to score a hell of a lot more than one goal every nine games for the Galaxy. I’m unsure exactly how this will go, but I feel comfortable with that prediction. There are a couple reasons for that, but mostly it’s because:
A) I can’t overstate how much of a drop in the quality of opposing defenses he’s about to see.
B) He’s arriving in L.A. with time to get to know his new coach, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and teammates. The primary reason he didn’t feature for Sevilla may very well have been that there simply wasn’t time to get acclimated.
As for the bottom line, double-digit goals would not surprise me at all. But to go even further out on a limb, I don’t seem him scoring over 20, as Zlatan did in both ’18 (22) and ’19 (31).
LA Galaxy: B-
While it’s worth wondering what he has left in the tank, he should have plenty to be among MLS’ most dangerous strikers. The grade is just relatively low because of the price tag.
Sevilla is parting ways with a player they weren’t using for nearly $10M. But they paid around $9M for him, so they part ways no worse for the wear, but have not exactly lined their pockets. The Chicharito experiment won’t go down in Sevilla history. Sevillistas, however, can’t be too upset with the ultimate outcome: a short-term gamble and a slight win on the financial side.