Despite arriving to West Ham on a £16million 3-year deal last summer, Mexico international striker Javier Hernandez was close to leaving the east London club last month.
The 29-year-old was a permanent stay on the bench, as manager David Moyes preferred to deploy Marko Arnautovic as his main striker.
With Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini being the first choice pairing on both wings, Chicharito’s chances of even playing out wide were limited.
The Mexican sought for an exit, as he feared for his future at the country level ahead of the summer World Cup.
However, injuries and suspensions to Arnautovic, Andy Carroll and Arthur Masuaku, coupled with the January exits of Andre Ayew and Diafra Sakho, have all given Chicharito a rare chance to feature regularly.
The former Manchester United man has missed just 2 minutes of West Ham’s last 4 games, and has featured in every of the 10 games played thus far this year.
Chicharito has grabbed his chance with both hands, registering 3 strikes in the Hammers’ last 4 Premier League encounters.
He recently told the club’s website: “I’ve always tried to be positive and, of course, you will not find one player in the world who wants to be on the bench.
“Whether the team are fighting for a title or fighting against relegation. Nobody wants to be on the bench, you want to be doing it, playing your sport.
“I’m happy, not only because I’m playing my game, but because I can feel my sharpness coming back. You can see the same has happened with Marko [Arnautovic]. Now, I’m going to try and keep that smile on my face.”
While he could yet lead the line for West Ham until the end of the campaign, with Carroll set to miss action until April, Chicharito’s future at the London Stadium is still not a certainty.
Moyes sanctioned the arrival of Jordan Hugill last month, because he wanted another striking option, and with the club likely to bring in another forward by summer, Hernandez might find himself back on the bench at the start of 2018-19.
The Scottish manager and the Mexican still don’t enjoy the smoothest of working relationships, and that is unlikely to change going forward.
Chicharito’s agent Eduardo Hernandez revealed to Mexico’s FOX Sports last month (via Daily Mail): “There are a number of clubs interested in his services, he’s a player everyone knows and is incredibly professional.
“Our primary focus is a club in which Hernandez can play the most games possible. That’s the most important.
“Javier has asked personally for it. He’s commented, stated and demanded that we look for a club that really needs a player with his characteristics because what he wants is to play and play and play.”
While West Ham mainly prevented a move due to their injury crisis, they won’t hesitate to let him go by summer should things change, and it’s very possible that Hernandez plies his trade elsewhere next term.