Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Mexico’s all-time scoring leader who made his name with European titans Manchester United and Real Madrid, was officially introduced as a member of the five-time MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy on Tuesday.
The high-profile signing — the Galaxy’s most significant since David Beckham’s arrival a dozen years ago — promises to be a major coup for the club and the league alike.
“It was the right time, the right opportunity,” said Hernandez, who had recently seen his playing time dry up at Spanish club Sevilla, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
He replaces former Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who signed with AC Milan earlier this month after two seasons in MLS, as the club’s go-to forward and star attraction. The 31-year-old Hernandez joins longtime El Tri teammate Jonathan dos Santos with the Galaxy. Carlos Vela, another Mexican national team headliner, took home league MVP honors in 2019 after setting a new league record with 34 regular season goals.
Known to fans around the world as Chicharito, Spanish for “the little pea,” Hernandez pushed back on the on the perception that he only left Europe because his minutes had dwindled. His last appearance for Sevilla was in November.
“Jonathan told me the league is very underrated,” he said. “I really believe you don’t go there to retire.”
Still, he conceded that the chance to play regularly again made the Galaxy’s pitch an attractive one.
“I’m going to be playing — that’s what I want in my life,” he said. “The last two years, [my] managers decided on giving confidence to other players rather than me. And now, the LA Galaxy, the manager of the club and the league are telling me, ‘Look, Javier, we want to give you all the trust, all the confidence to help us.’ That’s why I’m taking this opportunity.”
Per a longstanding MLS and Galaxy policy, terms of deal were not publicly disclosed. However, Sports Illustrated reported last week that the multiyear agreement would make Hernandez the highest-paid player in the history of the 25-year-old league.
“Javier has consistently scored goals in top leagues throughout the world,” Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese said in a press release. “We think he can be one of Major League Soccer’s best attacking threats and help our team in multiple ways. We are excited to bring Javier to Los Angeles.”
With more than a million Los Angeles residents who self-identify as having Mexican heritage, Hernandez could be an even bigger hit off the field, with club president Chris Klein calling him “an iconic figure in this community.”
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