Javier Hernandez’s move to Real Madrid from Manchester United on transfer deadline day happened fast and left many surprised.
The 26-year-old Mexico international striker joined the 2014 Champions League winner on a season-long loan deal, with the Spanish giants having the option to sign him on a permanent basis at the end of the 2014-15 campaign.
The transfer came as a shock to many football followers. After all, this is a player who has been struggling for playing time at United for the past two seasons and was joining a club that could have gone for Radamel Falcao (who has joined Manchester United on a season-long loan deal from AS Monaco – click here to read more).
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At first glance, the transfer does not make sense, but dig a little deeper and it will become clear why this is a win-win situation for all three parties involved.
Let’s first get United’s interest out of the way. The Red Devils have got a player off their squad that they did not have any need of – or at least manager Louis van Gaal thinks he has no need of.
United could have sold him and earned a decent transfer fee, but given that no clubs came for him, the loan situation is not that bad for the Premier League giants. The Red Devils could sell him to Madrid next summer or to any other club if Los Blancos are not willing to buy him.
From Chicharito’s perspective, this move is no worse than staying back at United; in fact, it is actually better. If Hernandez had remained at Old Trafford, then he would have had Falcao, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney ahead of him in the pecking order.
At the Santiago Bernabeu, the former Guadalajara star will have Karim Benzema ahead of him and will be given competition for the second place by Jese Rodriguez.
Moreover, given that Madrid are in the Champions League unlike United, Hernandez is likely to get more playing time under Carlo Ancelotti, who will rest Benzema from time to time.
From Madrid’s perspective, they have signed an experienced striker who has pace and quality, and who will not demand first-team football - and they need not keep him if things don't work out this season.
Ancelotti wants someone who can give Benzema some competition for a place in the starting line-up and push him to give his best in all matches.
Alvaro Morata could have been that man, but the 21-year-old Spaniard wanted more playing time and was sold to Juventus earlier in the summer. Jese remains an option, but the youngster has been struggling with injuries and has not even made 25 La Liga appearances in his career.
Hernandez will be a viable back-up to Benzema and will be motivated to give his all without making a fuss of playing second fiddle. If the 10-time European champions were to go and sign, say, Falcao, then they would have had to guarantee him playing time.
Benzema recently signed a lucrative new contract, and having two top strikers on high wages without both of them playing all the time would have been a waste.
Ancelotti has found a balance in his three-pronged attack with Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema and Gareth Bale - Hernandez’s arrival does not affect that but Falcao’s would have.
Perhaps selling Benzema and signing Falcao would have been a better option for Madrid – the latter is one of the top three finishers in the world when fit and the former goes through spells when he fails to find the target – but under the current circumstances, the recruitment of Hernandez was not a bad move.