The World Cup provides the perfect opportunity for players to showcase their talents to the watching world. More importantly, those who have barely played for their club over the season have the chance to re-establish themselves as one of the best in their position.
This could well be the case for Manchester United striker Javier Hernández. Having rarely featured for the former Premier League champions last season, 'Chicharito' is not expected to start for Mexico in Brazil this summer, with head coach Miguel Herrera set to call on Oribe Peralta and Giovani Dos Santos to lead the attack for the national team.
However, despite a lack of regular playing time - Hernández registered just 839 minutes of action in the Premier League last term - the striker still netted four goals and registered a further three assists, directly contributing to a goal every 119.51 minutes. Despite his lack of time on the pitch, the 26-year-old continued to display his attacking quality in and around the 18-yard box for United.
Regardless, the Mexico international will likely depart Old Trafford this summer in pursuit of regular first team action. Hernández has 37 league goals in 101 appearances for United in his last four seasons, a return that will impress those interested in the frontman. He has certainly proven his striking ability in one of Europe's top five leagues since signing from Guadalajara in 2010.
His WhoScored rating (6.39) for United last season may have been his lowest in England's top tier, but he managed to impress in front of goal when needed. Of every United player to have made at least two appearances in the league last term, only Juan Mata (21.4%), Danny Welbeck (19.6%) and Robin van Persie (19.4%) had a better conversion rate than Hernández (19%).
That figure would have been higher had Mata not nodded in Antonio Valencia's cross-cum-shot from close-range in United's 4-0 win over Norwich in April. The ball was destined to reach Hernández, who was standing a yard off the goal line, before the Spaniard claimed his second goal of the game in the victory.
That Hernández was so close to the goal all but sums up the type of striker he is. Considered by many the ultimate poacher, it's little wonder that all 37 of his league goals for United were scored inside the penalty area.
Some United fans would even go as far as saying he deserved more playing time under David Moyes during the Scot's ill-fated stint as manager. Hernández's penultimate start of the season came in the 4-0 thumping of Newcastle at St. James' Park, where the frontman bagged a goal and helped himself to an assist. That though proved to be his last meaningful input of the campaign having failed to net or provide for a teammate in his final four league appearances of the season.
Unfortunately for Hernández, the level of competition he has had to deal with at United is high. Despite his goalscoring exploits, 'Little Pea' is forced to battle it out with Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck for a starting spot. The trio offer more than just goals to the United team, with all three players willing to drop deeper to help in the build up play. Hernández in comparison thrives off playing off the last shoulder of the defender, feeding off scraps to pressurize the opposition goalkeeper.
If he is failing to maximise his striking approach or enduring a torrid display on the frontline, Hernández offers little more in attack. That isn't to say his style of play is wrong, but if he is churning out an underwhelming performance, then United may as well be playing with 10 men.
As a result, many feel he is better served coming off the bench. 53 of his 101 league appearances for United have come as a substitute, while no player has scored more substitute goals than Hernández (14) in the last four seasons. As an impact player, Hernández is seemingly the ideal candidate, such are his scoring exploits when starting on the bench.
Against tiring defences, his energy and willingness to play as high up the pitch as possible is an effective weapon to call on and one United looked to exploit in the last four seasons. Lamentably though, this limited Hernández's starts, especially last term, and it looks as though a similar pattern may occur for his country this summer, which isn't a bad thing for Mexico.
Hernández could well be Herrera's star player in the latter stages of games at the World Cup, while the former is hoping to build on his 35 goals scored for the national team. Importantly though, Hernández will be looking to put in a good performance for Mexico to not only guide them to the knockout stages, but also impress potential suitors ahead of the upcoming season.
Do you think Javier Hernández will impress at the World Cup? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below
All statistics courtesy of http://www.whoscored.com where you can find yet more statistics and player ratings.
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