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Why Javier Hernandez can be West Ham’s best signing for a decade

West Ham United striker Javier Hernandez

West Ham United made some bold moves in the transfer market this summer, bringing in a wealth of Premier League experience as well as some additional attacking flair.

The likes of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Marko Arnautovic have all joined the Hammers over the past few months, but one signing in particular stood out as a shrewd and much-needed piece of business.

Mexico’s all-time record goalscorer Javier Hernandez arrived from Bayer Leverkusen in July for a fee that BBC Sport reported to be around £16 million.

‘Chicharito’, as he is commonly known, is a rare breed in the modern game; a genuine goal poacher, a player who conducts his business almost exclusively in the penalty area and someone that West Ham have been sorely missing for a number of years.

A frequent criticism of the Irons’ transfer dealings over the past decade has been the failure to recruit a striker that could bag the goals to fire them to the next level.

Ambition is high at the club, as the move to the London Stadium last summer showed, but without a forward who finds the net 15-20 times a season, there is only so far you can go.

That is not to say that the powers that be have not tried to fix the problem, but their attempts have generally ranged from ill-thought and underused loans to overpaid and past their prime veterans looking for a payday.

Andy Carroll is one that has stuck around, but you cannot help but think that is partly due to the difficulty in shifting a player who has spent around half of his five years in East London on the treatment table.

In Hernandez, however, they seem finally to have found a man who deals in goals.

The 29-year-old has made a decent start to the season with four strikes in 10 Premier League outings and if his previous record in England is anything to go by there will be plenty more to come.

During his four-year spell at Manchester United, Hernandez scored 37 league goals in 103 appearances, which on the face of it looks a decent, if not particularly outstanding, record for a striker.

It is when you dig deeper that the numbers become more intriguing, with the former Chivas hitman’s minutes-per-goal record standing at 142, a ratio better than one in every two matches.

Put into context, that means that if he had played every minute of every full Premier League campaign he spent at Old Trafford, he would have bagged a total of 96 at a rate of 24 each term, enough to place him firmly in the ‘world-class’ bracket.

So, how do West Ham get the best out of Hernandez and enable him to rack up the figures that he is clearly capable of?

There is no doubt that he will always score goals; his two strikes against Southampton in August, both from rebounds, perfectly showcased his predatory instincts and knack for being in the right place at the right time.

In terms of maximising his output, though, Hernandez needs space in the box in which to operate and that requires rapid transitions of play to get the ball into the danger area before the opposition have a chance to pick him up.

West Ham showed that they can operate that way against Crystal Palace on Saturday; the Mexican’s opener was a deft finish with the outside of his foot which owed much to the swift and incisive build up that saw the ball move from the halfway line to the back of the net with three passes in 10 seconds.

If they can build upon that and fashion a style that allows Hernandez space and time in the 18-yard-box, then he will unquestionably hit double figures and more this season.

The Hammers finally have a top-class striker on their books and they cannot afford to let him go to waste.

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