Chicharito wants to be center of Galaxy
CARSON — Javier Hernández has been to the top of the soccer world. He spent the last 10 years in Europe’s top leagues, winning trophies and representing some of the biggest clubs.
Yet from Manchester United to Sevilla, the Mexican striker better known as Chicharito often struggled to get consistent playing time.
Whether his path was blocked by Wayne Rooney’s brilliance or a manager’s lack of confidence in him, Hernández rarely got to show his full talent. When he wasn’t fighting injuries, he often served as a key backup instead of a centerpiece.
That’s the main reason the 31-year-old Hernández agreed to return to North America with the LA Galaxy, who introduced their latest superstar acquisition Thursday.
Chicharito is the center of the Galaxy now, and he is thrilled.
“I just want to play,” Hernández said in his distinctively rapid bilingual delivery. “This league and this team, it’s giving me that opportunity (to show) that I’m one of the best players around the world. That’s why they want me to be here, to try to improve this league and this team . ... It’s a win-win-win-win. I know I’ll be on the pitch most of the time if I keep working hard for the club. I’m going to be doing what I loved since I was in the belly of my mother.”
With Chicharito playing in only nine games so far this season for Sevilla, the timing was finally perfect for this long-rumored combination of player and club.
While the Galaxy made major improvements and reached the playoffs last season behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s franchise-record 30 goals, they desperately needed another topflight striker at the center of coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s attack when Ibrahimovic chose to return to Europe. Unlike most Major League Soccer clubs, the Galaxy have the money to go get elite talents, even in the January transfer window.
Hernández is well aware of the five-time MLS champions’ history of landing world-class players, reeling off his own list of favorites: “Robbie Keane. Steven Gerrard. Giovani Dos Santos. Jonathan Dos Santos. Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Landon Donovan. David Beckham, that’s the most iconic one, obviously. And then my name is over those. I’m just so blessed and so humble that I can be a part of all this.”
The speedy, shifty Chicharito likely fits Barros Schlelotto’s style even better than the hulking Zlatan, and the Argentine coach worked aggressively behind the scenes to land Hernández.
While Chicharito’s European career got off to a strong start at Manchester United under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson, he repeatedly struggled elsewhere.
NEW ARRIVAL — Los Angeles Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernández poses for a photo with a Galaxy jersey during a press conference in Carson on Thursday.