Undoubtedly the transfer story of the summer so far has been Robin van Persie’s protracted switch from Arsenal to Manchester United, who are seemingly on the offensive in their bid to win back the Premier League title. Sir Alex Ferguson has bolstered his attacking options with the addition of Shinji Kagawa also, whilst Danny Welbeck has now finally agreed a new contract extension. So, where does this leave Javier Hernandez?
Although on paper United’s dream strike partnership is that of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, it is likely that Welbeck’s influence and involvement at Old Trafford will continue. The England international showed he was up to the required standard in 2011-12 and more often than not played alongside Rooney in the Red Devils’ attack.
Upon signing the new four-year deal, Ferguson was quick to note Welbeck’s growing impact for club and country.
“Danny has been with the club since he was eight years old and has made fantastic progress in the last couple of years – first out on loan and last year as a regular in the first team,” the Scot admitted.
“He has become an important player at international level as well, as the maturity of his performances at the European Championship showed. This year is another important one for him. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
Contract negotiations have dragged over the extension, with reported disagreements regarding the forward’s salary. Despite this, Welbeck has expressed his delight at continuing his lifelong year stay with the club.
“Playing for United is all I’ve ever wanted to do – it’s the club I’ve supported all my life,” the striker stated.
“I can’t wait for the challenge of the new season to play my part in helping the team compete for trophies.
“I’m learning all the time from the best manager in the game and I’m keen for that to continue alongside the world-class players in the squad.”
United now have an enviable front-line, with international superstars vying it out for a place in Ferguson’s starting XI. Along with Van Persie, Rooney and Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa has been signed this summer to add dynamism and energy to the squad. The Japanese star has shot into the limelight as a second striker for Borussia Dortmund, but given the attacking talent at the club was forced to start from wide against Everton in the club’s 2012-13 opener.
Hernandez must now be scratching his head, and be wondering what his role with the team will be going forward. The Mexican caused quite the stir by scoring a hatful of goals in his debut season in England in 2010-11, but found opportunities dwindling last term due to the rise to prominence of Welbeck, with his goal tally dropping due to fewer opportunities.
Chicharito’s eye for goal and predatory nature are not dissimilar to that of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who played an important role for Sir Alex’s men back between 1996 and 2007. However, it remains to be seen whether Hernandez will be satisfied with the Solskjaer-like tag of supersub, as he finds himself as potentially fourth-choice forward.
Hernandez has a debt of gratitude to the Premier League giants for giving him a break in Europe, and will do all he can to break his way back into the United team. However, a player of his considerable abilities will surely not be satisfied with warming the bench for the bulk of this season behind Rooney, Van Persie and Welbeck.