How long the Mexican lasts in the Louis van Gaal regime is up in the air. All the noises — or lack thereof — coming from the club and the 26-year-old suggest there is a decision to be made regarding Hernandez's future.
The player is now entering his prime and obviously wants to play regular first-team soccer. His statements during the World Cup about growing tired of people seeing him as a supersub gave a rare insight into what is going on inside the striker's head.
After the introductions and exchanging of pleasantries with the Dutch coach, Hernandez will want to know his position at the club. And it's not like the meticulous Van Gaal won't know about Chicharito. The 62-year-old will already have a firm idea of where the striker fits into his plans. It is almost inconceivable that he wouldn't want a player of Hernandez's commitment, quality and proven goal-scoring ability at the club.
MORE: Beautiful fans in Brazil | Barcelona's new bright kits | Juve's jerseys
On paper, Chicharito is Van Gaal's type of player: a model professional who is intelligent, team-oriented, enthusiastic and flexible in taking on new ideas, and who doesn't let his head drop when things aren't going his way.
Hernandez could take the easy road and leave for a mid-to-upper table La Liga side to guarantee minutes, like many pundits have suggested. But he is better than that — something that has perhaps been forgotten over the difficult past 12 months for the player.
|By Tom Marshall
Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola heaped praise on Mexican soccer in a conference call Tuesday with North American journalists.
"I'm a big fan of Mexican football," Guardiola said. "I played there (for Dorados de Sinaloa) for six months and I was impressed about how they love to play good football."
In his first season in Manchester, Hernandez played in a Champions League final and scored 20 goals. Since then, he has improved his all-around game. He possesses the pace, movement and finishing ability to feature for a top club, exactly like the one he plays for.
What Hernandez needs at United this season is a fair crack of the whip, something he didn't particularly get under Mexico coach Miguel Herrera for the national team this summer and certainly didn't receive last season for United with David Moyes.
Herrera seemed to have Oribe Peralta ahead of Hernandez in his pecking order from Day 1 — something that bemused many non-Mexico followers — and Moyes never exuded the authority to drop or rest stars like Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie in the same way Sir Alex Ferguson did.
Van Gaal certainly has the chutzpah to ignore reputations and pick a striker based on what he could add to the team.
Sure, Van Persie has a head start. But the Dutchman is injury-prone and Van Gaal is the type of manager who is unlikely to display favoritism. He's made a career on making big decisions, and that leaves the door open for Hernandez.
Then there are the more practical aspects of Hernandez leaving. Which club outside of the elite could afford Hernandez's transfer fee and wages? And of the European giants, which clubs could guarantee playing time?
Manchester United can keep the player — who has two years left on his contract at Old Trafford — if it wants to. And why wouldn't it? Chicharito is unlikely to kick up a fuss if the Red Devils do stamp their authority.
Sometimes taking a step back to get a little perspective is required, too.
Remember the wave of euphoria when Hernandez was announced at United in April 2010? A player going straight from the Mexican first division to a European giant was unheard of until then. It was a major boost not just for Chivas, but for the entire game in Mexico.
Since then, the triumphalism may have evaporated, but Hernandez is still the only Mexican at a top European club. With Van Gaal in charge, he has the same opportunity with United as he did when he put pen to paper in Manchester.
Yes, Manchester United was poor last season and Hernandez was underused, but he can still shine exactly where he is right now: one of the world's few genuine elite clubs.
Not many players from CONCACAF can say they've had that chance, and it would be hasty for him not to at least give working under Van Gaal a shot.