Javier Hernandez's exit from Manchester United seems inevitable as the club limps toward an offseason shakeup.
The Red Devils' 2-0 loss in Greece to Olympiakos on Tuesday in the last 16 of the Champions League smacked of an outfit already pining for the inevitable end-of-season shakeup. And it is still only February.
While the performance in general was that of a team a gulf in class away from cutting it at the top of the European elite, the brief camera shots of "Chicharito" warming up on the sidelines in the second half was a sad reminder of the Mexican's status at the club.
On trotted Danny Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa in the second half, while Hernandez was deemed surplus to requirements.
Let's not forget that it was less than three years ago that Hernandez started a Champions League final for Manchester United. If coach David Moyes isn't going to give the former Chivas player minutes when his team is 2-0 down and desperate for an away goal, it has to be time for him to move on this summer.
Baby-faced Chicharito may still not look a day older than when he signed for Manchester United back in 2010, but he'll be 26 by the time the World Cup starts and entering the peak years of his career. He also has a national team to think about and his role seems to be stalled at present. No longer is Hernandez an inked-in starter for Mexico, something that two years ago was unimaginable.
Four Premier League starts this season is, quite simply, not enough for a player of his stature and caliber. At United right now, Chicharito isn't even guaranteed to keep his starting place if he does perform well and score goals — despite his 127 minutes per goal average in Premier League games since he joined. Robin van Persie may be 30, but he could easily be United's starter for another four years considering speed has never been his strongest asset.
Hernandez deserves praise for what he has achieved at Manchester United and for staying for this long to fight for his place. Many wouldn't have done so, and his goals for such a massive club have put Mexico on the map as a soccer nation to a degree not seen since Hugo Sanchez.
Behind the scenes, interviews given to Mexican media outlets by Hernandez's agent, Eduardo Hernandez, suggest that there is already movement. Chicharito's agent said he attended a meeting with United's hierarchy in January, but that word back suggested the player wouldn't be allowed to leave over the winter. Nevertheless, the agent has also said that a German club, a French side, two teams in Spain and two more in Italy have made tentative inquiries as to the availability of his client.
Chicharito wouldn't be short of offers — especially with the important marketing boost to any club that signs him. On the playing side, the ideal fit would be a Champions League team in one of the top four leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy) where the 25-year-old would have a strong chance of playing time.
The likes of Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, AC Milan and Schalke could fit the bill this summer for a player in need of a second wind in greener pastures away from Old Trafford.