Javier Hernandez (r.) says he really feels wanted at new club Bayer 04 Leverkusen - © © imago
Javier Hernandez (r.) says he really feels wanted at new club Bayer 04 Leverkusen - © © imago

Ebullient 'Chicharito' set to spice up Leverkusen lives

Cologne - Stepping into the Bayer 04 Leverkusen press room on Tuesday afternoon, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez looked every bit like the cat that had got the cream.

'I want to find happiness'

A picture of sartorial elegance in a dapper grey suit and blue tie combo, the 27-year-old Mexico international gladly revealed his reasons for leaving Manchester United FC on a three-year, transfer deadline day deal.

"Bayer made me feel important and loved," Hernandez explained. "They made me feel wanted. I want to go back to feeling important and happy. I want to find happiness. Coming here was not a difficult decision to make. I want to help and achieve important things. I have felt very loved [since coming here]. I hope to accomplish things in my head and in my heart."

A brief look back at the Mexican’s recent toils at former club Manchester United reveal exactly why the Guadalajara native's move to the BayArena has come as such a welcome change. Having made just 12 starts in all competitions in 2013/14, he spent most of last season on loan at Real Madrid CF, scoring nine goals in 33 appearances. If returning to Old Trafford to warm the bench wasn’t part of the plan, joining Roger Schmidt’s pressing machine certainly was.

Son's replacement?

As a centre forward by trade, Hernandez offers die Werkself a genuine alternative in attack to 31-year-old frontman Stefen Kießling; something Leverkusen have been lacking since Andre Schürrle left the club for Chelsea FC in summer 2013. He also brings pace to the table, a quality that should lend itself perfectly to a Leverkusen side geared towards high intensity counter-attacks.

Yet with Kießling showing no signs of ageing, logic suggests 'Chicharito' will be deployed behind Leverkusen’s lone striker, where he will be able to use his speed and agility to open up opposition defences and get into scoring positions in and around the 18-yard box. He has inherited the No.7 shirt from previous left-sided attacking incumbent Heung-Min Son after all.

Hotting up the Bundesliga

Alternatively, Schmidt at least has the option of unleashing a rather unfashionable, albeit potentially profitable, little-and-large front two. It’s not a common sight in the modern game, but when the going gets tough, particularly in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, a curveball tactical switch could make all the difference.

Wherever Hernandez lines up, Leverkusen as well as the legions of Bundesliga fans worldwide can all expect to benefit from an added dash of Mexican spice. Like most things on the Scoville scale, however, just remember to handle the little man with care.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge