There was David Beckham, then Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And now, in what could be the biggest personnel movement in franchise history, the Galaxy is closing an agreement with Mexican star Javier “Chicharito” Hernández.
The team and the player continued the talks on Tuesday, and an agreement had not been closed. However, a person with knowledge of the situation said that an agreement “seems likely” and that the club was beginning to make preliminary arrangements for an announcement. The person spoke anonymously because a contract had not been signed.
Over the weekend, general manager Dennis te Kloese confirmed that the Galaxy was negotiating for Hernandez, 31, who in September moved from West Ham United from England to Seville for a transfer fee of approximately $ 8.7 million. It is not clear how much of a transfer fee the Galaxy would have to pay to Seville. The Spanish club has a history of successfully turning players for profit, but Hernandez has appeared in only two league games since November 2.
The largest transfer fee that the Galaxy paid for a player was $ 7 million, for Giovani dos Santos in 2015.
Although his nickname translates as “small pea,” Hernandez is a relatively physical 5-foot-9-foot striker who is an explosive scorer. Since his debut for the Mexican national team in 2009, he has played 109 international matches and has 52 goals, which makes him the leading scorer of the team’s career. In 244 games in the English Premier League since 2010, he has 89 goals, making appearances for Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and West Ham United before joining Sevilla.
Hernández is known as “Chicharito” because his father, former midfielder of the Mexican national team of the same formal name, was nicknamed “Chicharo”. Hernandez’s maternal grandfather, Tomás Balcazar, also played for the Mexican national team.
The Galaxy hope that Hernandez can replace Ibrahimovic in the lineup and as a box office draw. Ibrahimovic, an electric talent with a bombastic personality, scored 52 goals in 56 appearances in two seasons with the Galaxy and became the face of the franchise before leaving the team recently to sign with AC Milan. Losing it as an attraction was a particularly significant blow considering the popularity of Carlos Vela, the Mexican star who was the Most Valuable Player of Major League Soccer in 2019 playing for LAFC, the bitter rival of the Galaxy.
Vela, 30, scored a league record with 34 goals last season, which caused LAFC to get the best record in the league 21-4-9 before a loss to Seattle in the Western Conference final. When asked on Monday about the rumors that Hernandez was heading to the Galaxy, Vela said: “Would I like to see it happen? Of course. It’s a scoring machine … and it does a very good job defending. I think Mexican fans would be excited. “
Hernandez has less than half a year in a three-year deal for $ 9.7 million with Seville, and any deal with the Galaxy would likely include an increase. But with the Ibrahimovic contract of $ 7.2 million out of the books, the team has money to spend.
Whatever the investment of the team, Hernández is a proven draw. He is the most popular Mexican player in the United States: his national team jersey has been among the best-selling soccer jerseys for almost a decade, and has especially strong supporters in Southern California.
When asked about a possible move to an MLS franchise in November, Hernandez told Times reporter Kevin Baxter in a telephone interview: “I want to be as open as possible to any opportunity, and then, when I need to decide something on the future, those decisions, I will think about them and try to get the best. MLS is a league that is improving. “