Eric Gomez: Chicharito's future at Manchester United up in the air with Ferguson retiring

The Mexican striker has been chased by several big-name clubs and could exit Old Trafford if Robert Lewandowski or Radamel Falcao are brought in by United over the summer.

When Sir Alex Ferguson took over as Manchester United manager in November of 1986, Mexico’s Hugo Sanchez had become one of the world’s top strikers and was terrorizing defenses as a key member of Real Madrid.

As Ferguson leaves Old Trafford nearly 27 years later, many fans around the world will wonder if he has stunted the growth of another Mexican striker looking to develop into the world’s top marksmen.

Since arriving at Manchester United in 2010, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez has scored a total of 48 goals for the Red Devils in limited minutes. Once primed to partner with Wayne Rooney on a regular basis, Hernandez has been often rotated with the likes of Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda and Dimitar Berbatov in seasons past and present. The arrival of Robin van Persie in 2012 essentially relegated him to third fiddle behind the talented Dutchman and Rooney.

Hernandez hit out at Ferguson and United for the first time just a few weeks ago, expressing his frustration at the lack of meaningful minutes and fueling ever-present transfer rumors that pop up whether the former Chivas man is getting the job done or sitting on the bench. Now, Hernandez will witness the end of an era firsthand, and may also get the exciting opportunity to audition for whoever takes on the managerial role as Ferguson departs.

If those other pesky exit rumors involving Wayne Rooney to Paris Saint-Germain or Barcelona take effect, will Chicharito even get the chance to play for a starting job? United has been linked with Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski, Atletico Madrid’s sublime Radamel Falcao and even Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez for next season, big names who would definitely stunt Chicharito’s possibilities to contribute.

Despite the consistent mocking by haters who see Hernandez’s goal poaching style as superfluous in the modern game, the fact that teams like Arsenal, Real Madrid, Juventus and Valencia have supposedly inquired over his status over the past seasons has legitimized his status as one of world soccer’s hot properties. One of those teams is bound to give Hernandez a fighting chance at a starting job.

These questions should definitely weigh on Hernandez, who turns 25 on June 1 and definitely has his best years ahead of him. He should no longer settle for being anyone’s third or fourth option, especially with the chops he’s shown at Old Trafford for the past three seasons. If Chicharito’s personality and demeanor are any indication, he’ll give United’s new boss a chance to evaluate him. The fact that Sir Alex Ferguson will move on to a director’s role doesn’t mean he’ll relinquish any power with personnel decisions.

If anything, should David Moyes or Ryan Giggs take the job, Ferguson’s influence will be overarching, considering his blueprint has secured United’s success on the pitch and at the cash register for the better part of three decades. Ferguson might not be giving Hernandez lip service. If anything, there is reason to believe he wants him at the club, having taken the chance of signing him in the first place when no Mexican striker had been remotely successful in Europe since the early 1990s.

No, Ferguson is likely to want to keep Hernandez around, no matter who the new boss is. Should the team sell off Rooney and bolster other areas of the pitch (like central defense or right wing), Hernandez would be the natural candidate to partner up with RVP on a consistent basis. However, if Falcao or Lewandowski come bursting in through the door, expect Chicharito to command a hefty transfer fee a few days later.

And based on the previous storylines involving Hernandez, it won’t be anywhere second-rate, either. Irony is one of the more curious things in the world. Bookending Sir Alex Ferguson’s career with Manchester United by having a Mexican striker at Real Madrid would provide just that.

Follow ERIC GOMEZ on