It is clear the striker situation at Chelsea cannot continue. Antonio Conte’s lack of faith in Michy Batshuayi isn’t just affecting the Belgium international’s development, but also Alvaro Morata’s form as the £60million signing struggles with the workload and the pressures of being a first-choice striker for the first time in his career, all the more challengingly during the first season of his career that doesn’t include a winter break.
Accordingly, the goals have dried up for Batshuayi and Morata and the Blues in general; since the end of October, the duo have scored just nine goals across all competitions, while Chelsea have failed to find the net in their last three games.
Unsurprisingly, the west London club have sought to arrest the situation via the transfer market, targeting West Ham’s Andy Carroll. But the ever-crocked England international isn’t the Irons forward who should be in the Blues’ crosshairs – not least because West Ham are valuing him at a staggering £30million. Indeed, Chelsea should be targeting a player very much trapped in Carroll’s lanky shadow at the moment – summer signing Javier Hernandez.
West Ham appeared the perfect club for the Mexican poacher when he returned to the Premier League from Bayer Leverkusen; a side desperately in need of a potent goalscorer, not to mention a passionate fan base who could provide the affection Hernandez has often lacked during stages of his career – particularly from his managers.
But it just hasn’t worked out for Chicharito at the London Stadium. Slaven Bilic struggled to find a way to make him the focal point of the team, and the appointment of David Moyes put the writing on the wall. The two didn’t see eye-to-eye at Manchester United and across all competitions, Hernandez has started just two games (one being a League Cup clash) since the Scot took the helm.
With the Hammers now flying high under Moyes, that situation appears unlikely to change any time soon and recent reports claim the club are looking to sell – a figure that comes close to their original £17million investment would probably get the deal done.
Hernandez’s tenure at West Ham has made one thing clear; even at the age of 29 with 465 career appearances’ worth of experience under his belt, the diminutive forward still struggles to lead the line on his own from the opening whistle. But that isn’t really what Chelsea need.
Morata is still the main man, despite his recent struggles, and Conte simply requires a striker he’s more open to trusting when the Spaniard has run out of steam. Hernandez proved at Manchester United that’s exactly what he’s perfect for.
Only five players have ever scored more goals from the bench than Chicharito throughout Premier League history and his strike-rate in terms of minutes as a substitute – one goal every 89 minutes – is up there with the very best. It also speaks volumes that, despite never exceeding the status of squad player during his time at Old Trafford, he also reached double figures in the top flight during three of his four full campaigns with the Red Devils.
Surely, after his tribulations at West Ham, Hernandez is ready to return to the role of supersub at a major club, rather than stepping down to somewhere like the MLS or the Turkish Super Lig. And surely, although he’s currently sidelined, Hernandez represents an option far more reliable – and far more proven at top level – than Carroll.
After all, this is a striker who has only ever scored 78 career goals and averaged just 18 top flight appearances during the last six years, compared to a 99-cap international who has won two Premier League titles and plied his trade with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen – three of Europe’s most prestigious clubs.
It’s a choice between a striker who has already produced the goods at Chelsea’s level and consistently shown his netting prowess as a substitute in the Premier League, and another who has missed just 14 games less than he’s been featured in over the last six years. So, Blues supporters, which West Ham forward would you rather sign?