There’s an intriguing name hitting the transfer market this month: as passed on by fellow SB Nation site FMF State of Mind, German outlets are reporting that Bayer Leverkusen are ready to sell Mexico international star Javier Hernandez. Better known as Chicharito, the Mexican striker was a terror to defenses all over Europe the last two years in Germany, and found a fair amount of success in England earlier in his career with Manchester United as well.
Why bring this up, you ask? Well, despite having already signed Leonardo Pavoletti, there are still whispers that Napoli are in the market for a striker. That’s borne out by continuing rumors that Manolo Gabbiadini is for sale and drawing wide interest from teams across Europe, so an opening for a player of Chicharito’s caliber is certainly there should Napoli decide to pull the trigger. It wouldn’t be cheap to sign him — current rumors place Leverkusen’s demand at €25 million — but for a poacher of such silky skill who has been successful in England, Germany, and in one of the most rough-and-tumble international confederations out with CONCACAF in North America, there’s plenty of reason to be intrigued and potentially willing to sign Chicharito.
But we decided to not just take our own opinions into consideration — we asked you guys what you thought.
@SirenSongNapoli @FMFSoM Yes please. Great preditor!— Jorges (@MistyPushkin99) January 6, 2017
Well there’s one yes vote right off the top. Spoiler alert: it’s the only yes vote we got.
@SirenSongNapoli @FMFSoM with the Pavoletti signing and Milik returning soon, I don't know if Napoli can justify buying another striker— Gods of Naples (@TheNapoliBlog) January 6, 2017
With Gabbiadini looking set to leave, you could easily argue that there is room to justify Chicharito — but it would definitely be easier to justify to sign a cheaper player and use the difference in transfer fees to get someone else to help the team at another position. Say, a real backup right winger?
@SirenSongNapoli no way, he's too lazy to fit Sarri's style.— Michael Valleriano (@femike99) January 6, 2017
This has been a frequent criticism of Chicharito earlier in his career, and it’s been popping back up again of late while his form has struggled this season. It’s definitely true that he’s not a high-energy player who gives his all flying back and forth around the pitch, but calling him “lazy” is a bit harsh.
What he does is set up and look for opportunities — for a defender to step up and leave a hole for him to exploit, or to press a defender on the ball, or any of a half-dozen other things. He’s also still constantly moving and adjusting his position, reacting to what’s going on around him and finding the most ideal spot to launch his runs from. It may look lazy at first glance if you don’t know what to look for, but the reality is that he’s anything but — he’s playing to his strengths and making sure to pick his spots.
That brings us to this objection from an old friend of the site:
@SirenSongNapoli no. Doesn't work well in Sarri's system.— Napoli Outsider (@NapoliOutsider) January 6, 2017
While it’s easy to see how Chicharito could work well in Sarri’s system, it’s also easy to see how he wouldn’t. In essence, he’s Arkadiusz Milik with a lower work rate and less defensive contribution — and considering that Milik works so well for Napoli because of his work rate and defensive contribution, well, Chicharito probably wouldn’t work out so well.
But it’s also worth noting that there’s things Hernandez does better than Milik — he’s a better finisher, especially from range; he’s a better passer in the final third; he’s also probably better at executing those goalward runs to get on the end of a through ball, as well, as hard as that might be to see with how good Milik is at them.
Still, Chicharito is definitely not an ideal fit. He’s also been in dreadful form of late, failing to score in nearly 1,100 minutes on the pitch, and there’s been growing rumblings of selfish behavior from him off the pitch, including a discord between him and the rest of the dressing room that lead to him skipping the official club Christmas party.
While Maurizio Sarri can work on Chicharito’s form, the off-pitch issues are a bigger issue and a huge red flag. That kind of discord is not something Napoli needs, and on that factor alone it’s probably best to pass on signing Chicharito.
Still, it’d be intriguing to see just what he could do with Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon supporting him. Ah, well.