Manuel Veth –
Javier Hernández, better known as Chicharito, has been a major news story among the football news media based in the United States. The Mexican was recently linked with a move to Major League Soccer with both Los Angeles Galaxy and the new franchise, Los Angeles FC, interested in bringing the Mexican star to the league.
There is no doubt that MLS would be salivating over the prospect of having Chicharito as part of the league. With a reported 11 million Mexicans living in the United States, the acquisition of the forward could have a similar impact on the league as the acquisition of David Beckham had when he joined LA Galaxy in 2007.
Contrary to the suggestion of some news outlets, however, the deal is anything but done, or even in the early negotiation stage. In general, there are some massive hurdles to overcome before Chicharito will be able to join Major League Soccer.
Chicharito is under contract at Leverkusen until 2018
The Mexican is under contract until 2018, which means that, according to FIFA regulations, no club or, in the case of MLS, entity is allowed to negotiate with the player until the end of the 2017 January transfer window. This little detail suggests that sources claiming that the league is in negotiation with Chicharito, have possibly overstated the current development in the matter.
There is certainly no doubt that the league has an interest in Chichartio. With the large Mexican population in Southern California in mind, there is no doubt that both Los Angeles franchises have good reason to at least attempt bringing Chichartio to LA.
But is Chicharito available? The Mexican forward has been one of the main driving forces for the Bundesliga that is desperately seeking to establish itself in the North American television market.
Also, the German club squashed any rumour that linked Chicharito away from Germany despite the fact that the Mexican has a difficult relationship with Bayer head coach, Roger Schmidt. In fact, Chicharito has re-found his form in the second half of the Bundesliga season, and has scored five goals in six Bundesliga games since the winter break.
Bayer, therefore, will likely attempt to re-sign the striker in the summer in order to ensure that Chicharito, whose market value is €22 million, will not leave the club on a free transfer in the summer of 2018 when his current contract expires. Should Chicharito chose to leave Bayer after his contract is up, however, Bayer will likely attempt to sell the Mexican.
At that point, it would be possible that MLS could indeed attempt to sign the striker. Los Angeles Football Club, however, does not begin league play until March 2018, which would only leave LA Galaxy as a lucrative destination for Chicharito next summer, should MLS chose to pay a major transfer fee for the Mexican striker—Bayer are expected to demand at least €30 million for Chichartio.
Chicharito would be an impact player in Major League Soccer
For LA Galaxy, however, such a transfer would mean that one of the Galaxy’s three designated players would have to be transferred away from the club. The other option, of course, would be for the league to change the rule, similar to what they did when LA Galaxy signed Beckham in 2007, and allow a player of Chicharito’s market potential to join a club despite the fact that a team has already taken up three DP spots.
In the case of LA Galaxy, however, the story involves a lot of ifs and buts. This suggests that Los Angeles FC are likely the club interested in bringing in Chicharito.
LA FC’s ownership group is extremely diverse, and includes the likes of former football player Mia Hamm, actor Will Farrell, former basketball player Magic Johnson, former NBA executive Tom Penn, Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan, and several businessmen. With such a diverse ownership group it is likely that the source of the Chicharito rumour has expressed an interest in signing the forward, and that this expressed interest then spiralled into a full-blown rumour.
That said, LAFC are right to pursue the Mexican. Available, or not, Chichartio would give the franchise the sort of pedigree needed to succeed in a difficult sport media market. Aside from the LA Galaxy, Los Angeles will also be the new home of the recently relocated San Diego Chargers NFL franchise. The city also boasts two NBA teams, two MLB teams, two NHL teams, and the Los Angeles Rams, which moved to the city in 2016.
LAFC, therefore, will have to make a massive splash on the transfer market and, with a competent ownership group in place, there is no doubt that Chicharito is on that list. But whether the Mexican will be available is an entirely different matter and, while the rumour mill is spinning rapidly, a transfer is anything but a certainty.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist, and podcaster for WorldFootballIndex.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States”, which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @homosovieticus.