Joining in a £16 million deal from Leverkusen, Javier Hernandez may well prove to be the goal scorer that West Ham have spent years searching for. Given the current market, the price paid is a small cost to bring in a forward who has scored 65 goals in top European leagues including 37 in the Premier League. The 29 year-old is unlikely to solve the striking problems for future years but if he can continue his scoring rate in the league over the next few seasons then he will prove a valuable asset.
The Mexican international has a goal in every two games for his country and last scored against Portugal during Mexico’s run to fourth place of the Confederations Cup this summer. During his previous spell in English football the former Manchester United player scored at a rate of one in three league games. This was with his game time limited, often coming on as an impact sub. During his two seasons in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen his scoring rate improved to 28 in 54 league games. Leverkusen finished third in his first season and achieved Champions League football last season. They were less successful in that season finishing 12th overall.
In Hernandez West Ham have a goal scorer, someone who knows how to put the ball away but are unlikely to get much else. He is lacking in creativity and link up play but this will be overlooked if he scores enough. Last season Chicharito scored a goal every 165 minutes in the league but had only three assists. If however we compare him to Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich he performed well. The Polish striker finished second top scorer last season with 30 goals, one every 92 minutes but attempted more than double the amount of shots per game. He, like Hernandez had a low return for assists, having only five in the league and both players had a similar pass completion in the mid 70% range. One area of Hernandez’s game which has been highlighted is his apparent poor first touch but this is perhaps unfair. During the league last season he had 1.4 unsuccessful touches per game which did increase to 1.9 during Champions League games and may be where it was highlighted more. Lewandowski however had a worse rate for this statistic last season with 1.8 per game in the league, rising to 4.3 in Europe. Statistics such as this will get overlooked if Hernandez scores enough goals next season.
£16 million is a small price to pay to land a proven goal scorer at the highest level. If, with the other new first team players he can get off to a good start the Hammers should have a good season. The bar for club top scorer has been set quite low over the past years so if he can make double figures it will be better than previous strikers have performed.