Bayer Leverkusen are reportedly ready to listen to offers for star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in the upcoming January transfer window.
According to Bild, Chicharito could leave for a fee between €30 and 40 million after the Bundesliga club fell all the way to 9th place at the winter break, eight points out of the fourth and final Champions League spot.
After a phenomenal first season with Leverkusen, scoring 26 goals in all competitions and firing the club into the Champions League practically by himself, Chicharito has cooled off considerably. He hasn’t scored since October 1st and has just just seven goals in 23 appearances. That’s well under both Chicharito’s own and his club’s expectations, so could a change in scenery really be in the cards?
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Chicharito would attract plenty of interest from around the globe. He’s still just 28 years old and in the prime of his career. He’s also proven to pop up and score important goals everywhere he’s been, though he never enjoyed as much consistent playing time at Manchester United or Real Madrid as he has with Bayer.
But Leverkusen pulling the trigger on a sale remains highly doubtful, considering their alternatives. Despite his three-month goal drought, Chicharito is still the club’s leading scorer this season and there’s not a lot of firepower behind him.
Kevin Volland, who signed for €20 million in the summer, has been a supreme disappointment and remains without a Bundesliga goal this season. Club legend Steffan Kiessling is 32 years old and has failed to make an impact off the bench. And though Joel Ponjanpalo has shown some promise before breaking his foot in October, including a hat trick off the bench on Matchday 2, it’s hard to imagine Leverkusen entrusting the 22-year-old Finland international with carrying the load going forward. The truth is Leverkusen’s entire offense, not just Chicharito, has sputtered since finishing last season as the Bundesliga’s fourth-best attack.
Top-quality strikers are also hard to come by in mid-season. Could Leverkusen really find a suitable alternative on the January market, one that would also be eligible to play for Leverkusen in the Champions League knockout stage? That’s hard to believe. One name linked to Leverkusen who’s said to be available is RB Leipzig’s Davie Selke, but as talented as the 21-year-old is, he’s a bench player with the Red Bulls and not ready for the big time.
No, manager Roger Schmidt should to stick with his star and hope that he and the entire team can turn things around after the new year. With Leverkusen still in the Champions League and a spot in the Bundesliga’s top four not out of reach – especially given how unpredictable this season has been – letting their best player walk would prove to be a big mistake.