Cologne - Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez has been a Bayer 04 Leverkusen player for a little under three months. Yet, given the impact he has made in that time, it would be easy to think the Mexican star has long been part of the furniture.
He opened his account for Die Werkself in the Bundesliga on Matchday 6, having already scored decisive goals for his new club in the UEFA Champions League, and he added to that at the weekend to inspire his side to victory over VfB Stuttgart.
FINAL: Bayer 04 Leverkusen 4-3 VfB Stuttgart pic.twitter.com/cwQ1pe0MXE— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04fussball) October 24, 2015
Chicharito has burst onto the scene in the Bundesliga, showing an unflinching keenness to shoot. The Mexican has had a shot every 23 minutes on average compared to every 47 minutes for fellow striker Stefan Kießling. Since he opened his account against 1. FSV Mainz 05, Leverkusen have not lost in the Bundesliga, thanks also to the 27-year-old's assist for Karim Bellarabi to score against FC Augsburg.
Hernandez is not only red hot when it comes to spicing up the Leverkusen attack with goals and assists, however, as he showed against the Swabians with a performance to establish his place in club folklore. He hit 32.5 km/h with his top sprint, setting up that man Bellarabi again for Leverkusen's first before tying the game at 3-3.
Just a few days before, he was tying AS Roma in knots in the Champions League, converting a cool penalty (l.) before supplying his side's second. It was a good job too, since the guests hit back with four goals and without his endeavours, a 4-4 draw may have been impossible.
He has also shone off the field, settling in superbly to his new surroundings. "'Chicharito' is a very lively guy and you can see how well he's settled in, and that he's also enriching our game," said goalkeeper Bernd Leno. "He can always be there when it matters."
Gigantic, on and off the field
Small in stature he may be, but there are few as big as him in grandeur. That said, he is cannily able to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground and remain humble and polite. Even journalists have only positive things to say about 'Chicharito', who always makes a point of speaking to the massed media in an array of languages, even if he does prefer his mother tongue of Spanish.
He is a team player who is more interested in the success of his team than his own records – a team he has branded "amazing", adding that "the atmosphere in the dressing room is fantastic, everybody helps each other and we all work very hard." He had only warm words for his coach Roger Schmidt too, saying that he "gives me a lot of self-confidence and I want to pay him back for this in games."
He is more than just a top player for Leverkusen, though. His performances on the field are only one of the new dimensions he has brought to the club, with his fan base ensuring even more eyes are following Leverkusen's games this season. The viewing figures from Central and South America for the game against Augsburg were higher than for any other Bundesliga club.
"That's mainly down to him," said sporting director Rudi Völler. Thanks to this allure, the club from the Rhine have rarely looked so appealing.