The Chicharito challenge facing West Ham

Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez arrived in the summer as West Ham sought to add pace and precision to their attacking line. Very much regarded as a ‘fox in the box’ kind of striker, the 29-year-old is renowned for the quality of his movement off the ball and timing inside the area, always ready to pounce on chances that come his way.

Considering how difficult the start to the 2017/18 Premier League campaign has been, the Mexican international has already made a healthy contribution, individually scoring three of the seven goals scored by the team in their opening seven encounters of the season.

Three straight league defeats was hardly an inspiring start, but although form has since improved steadily with Slaven Bilic tightening things up defensively, at odds of 11/2 in the football betting forecasts for relegation, West Ham must also improve offensively if they’re to keep afloat.

Without a doubt, Chicharito remaining sharp in front of goal will be vital for the cause, but like any striker, he is reliant on consistent and quality service from his teammates. Boasting a ratio of 1.9 shots per goal from his first seven matches, the Mexican has shown a good level of efficiency in and around the area, maximising his chances in a team that has only managed an average of 3.4 shots on target per game.

Should Chicharito continue producing similar numbers throughout the course of the season, he will certainly justify the fee of £16 million that West Ham reportedly paid Bundesliga outfit, Bayer Leverkusen. However, barely months after his arrival in London, there are worrying signs his stay might only be temporary.

According to reports doing the rounds in Spain at the start of October, Chicharito may already be planning his West Ham exit, targeting Sevilla and Valencia as possible La Liga destinations. Despite seeming outwardly content with life in London and at the club, his relationship with Spanish actress Andrea Duro appears to be the motivation. Beyond the football pitch, matters of the heart could be the deciding factor.

If the decision is already made in the mind of the player, then West Ham will be faced with a big problem to resolve ahead of the January transfer window. Do they insist that he stays until the end of the season, at the very least, or do they get ready to negotiate and begin scouring the market for potential replacements?

Even if the agents of Chicharito have already generated enough genuine interest from Sevilla or Valencia, it’s hard to imagine either of the Spanish clubs offering West Ham a way to recoup their summer outlay. More likely, given the ‘Financial Fair Play’ restrictions in La Liga, would be an initial loan offer with an option to buy clause attached.

As if Slaven Bilic didn’t have enough on his plate, given the ongoing speculation regarding his own future and even with the apparent backing of the board, the Croatian coach must now contend with the prospect that his key striker might not be with the club beyond December.

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