If any West Ham fan was asked a month ago whether Javier Hernández would still be at the London Stadium in February, most of them would have said no.
The Mexico international was struggling for game time behind star man Marko Arnautović, and looked increasingly frustrated. He clearly did not appear to be at the forefront of manager Manuel Pellegrini’s plans, and subsequently wanted a move away in order to find more game time.
However, since then, the Austrian striker’s future has been thrown into a lot of doubt, with an increasing number of rumours linking him to Man United either in January or at the end of the season. This suddenly gave Hernández the glimmer of hope at the London Stadium.
But now an injury to Arnautović has now seen Hernández become the first choice striker in his absence, and it looks as though he will thrive in that position. He was already showing good form before his teammate’s injury, as Pellegrini said he planned on playing the two up front. But what Hernández is now getting is the experience of leading the attack on his own for West Ham, or at least being the main striker.
It is this experience that may be enough to keep the Mexican with The Hammers next season in what may well be the post-Arnautović era.
Now that the 105-cap international is getting a taste for goals again (he now has four league goals in 12 appearances), he may have been given the incentive to remain with the club. He would surely be first choice ahead of Lucas Peréz and Andy Carroll, and he probably knows that.
It may be a strange thing for West Ham fans to admit, but Arnautović’s injury may have been the best thing for Hernández’s future at the club, and their long-term striking options.