Now that the summer transfer window has officially opened, we can expect new rumors practically every hour. Over the past few days we’ve been privy to more importing and exporting rumors than Art Vandelay, with everyone from Gregoire Defrel to Jean-Michel Seri coming in, while Antonio Rüdiger and Stephan El Shaarawy may be heading in the opposite direction.
And as much as I enjoy reporting on transfer rumors, sometimes I like to sow the seed myself and see what germinates. In the past, my desperate attempts to get Roma to sign Cyril Thereau and Shkodran Mustafi fell on deaf ears, while my desire for Davide Santon was probably ignored for good reason. Point being, it’s a lot easier to pass the message along rather than write it yourself.
But I’m nothing if not obstinate, so bear with me as I make my case: Roma should sign Javier Hernandez, better known as Chicharito.
If you’re not an ardent follower of the United States Men’s National Team, you may not be terribly familiar with Hernandez, who has tormented the yanks time and time again. Hernandez, arguably the best footballer Mexico has ever produced, has been plying his trade in Europe for seven seasons now, including stints with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Leverkusen. All told, Chicharito has amassed over 200 appearances in England, Spain and Germany, and is fast approaching the 100 goal mark.
Chicharito, 29-years-old and fresh off a 13 goal campaign for Leverkusen, is very much a poacher, having cracked double digits in five of his seven seasons in Europe. Furthermore, and perhaps even more important, Chicharito is efficient, putting 54% of his shots on target last season with a 24% conversion rate; he even created 22 scoring chances for his teammates, second among all Leverkusen forwards last season.
With his pace, understanding of space and movement off the ball, Hernandez simply knows when/where/how to grab a goal. With 34 goals and 6 assists (all comps) in two seasons since switching to Leverkusen, it’s fair to question why they’d let him leave, right?
Well, much like Roma, Leverkusen are feeling the financial effects of missing Europe, and with a relatively paltry £13m release clause, this little pea could be ripe for the plucking, making Leverkusen’s misfortune Roma’s gain. His goal scoring record alone would make him a perfect addition to Roma’s frontline, while his pace and agility would give Eusebio Di Francesco plenty of mixing and matching opportunities; Chicharito would be more than just a backup for Edin Dzeko, he’d bring a new wrinkle into the attack.
When you consider his goal scoring record, his relatively small cost and the fact that only West Ham United have been connected to him thus far, Roma may be able to jump the queue to sign Chicharito, where he’d not only find Champions League football, but a familiar face in national teammate Hector Moreno, not to mention ample playing time under an attack at all costs manager.
While Dzeko was resurgent this past season, finally using his size and strength to his advantage, and Mohamed Salah terrorized the league with his blinding speed and playmaking ability, Roma’s roster has long been missing someone like Chicharito; a nimble, low maintenance, off the ball striker whose sole purpose is to grab goals. They had it very briefly with Mattia Destro several years ago, but as we saw last season, when Dzeko was off the mark and Salah was simply gassed, there was no go-to guy. No one capable of getting the cheap, dirty and timely goal, the one that can so often mean the difference between one point and three points.
Chicharito is that guy. His age, his experience and his skill set makes him the perfect addition to EDFs wing-loaded attack, so Roma would be wise to at least explore this possibility. He’s cheaper, better and more suited to what Roma needs than the likes of Gregoire Defrel.