By Leyla Hamed.
The on-loan Mexican striker makes a strong case for a permanent move with a superb run of performances for Los Blancos.
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Real Madrid’s match at the Balaídos Stadium was the first crucial test in La Liga in this latter part of the season for the Mexican striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández. On loan from Manchester United this season for a fee of €2.5million and €3m in wages, he scored a double that may be key for Real Madrid in their fight for the league title in Sunday’s 4-2 win against Celta de Vigo.
The character and passion shown by Chicharito has been vital for the Galacticos, during what could have been a troublesome week for Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, with Karim Benzema out injured. In fact, it was due to this injury that the hitman got his chance to start in the Real Madrid starting line-up against Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final at the Santiago Bernabeu. His great performance was capped off by netting a crucial winner that sent Los Blancos through to the tournament’s final four. This was a special night for Chicharito; he was finally able to release some of the pent-up frustration he’s felt this season.
Those two strikes took his season tally in La Liga to six, but the rate at which he has scored those goals is quite remarkable; from three starts and 15 appearances from the bench, the Mexican striker has netted once every 83 minutes. It’s that sort of form that has led Ancelotti – who has so often left him out of the side this season – to claim that the Little Pea’s place in the team could be “non-negotiable”.
Although he is very likely to be dropped when Benzema return, Chicharito is now enjoying his best spell at Real Madrid. He is becoming exactly what Ancelotti hoped: a potential game-changer and an impact substitute responsible for scoring goals during injury to an undisputed starter. It also means they don’t have to rush Benzema back. The 26-year-old has fulfilled all the expected objectives.
Against Celta Vigo, the Mexican striker looked very lively during the whole 72 minutes he was on the field, and formed a lethal attack against the Galician defence alongside James Rodríguez and Cristiano Ronaldo. Nolito opened the scoring for the hosts after just nine minutes, but Celta’s lead lasted only seven minutes as Ronaldo’s dangerous cross from the right was cleared only as far as Toni Kroos at the edge of the area, who curled home just his second goal for Real Madrid.
Chicharito’s scoring streak then continued with a fine, low finish after he worked a few quick passes with Rodríguez, before slotting in from a narrow angle to give Real Madrid the lead. His second came in the 69th minute, as he took down a long pass from Sergio Ramos, took a touch and fired past Celta goalkeeper Sergio Álvarez to seal the three points. That’s four goals for him in four matches, and he also assisted a goal in his side’s victory against Málaga – the only game during this spell he did not score in.
If Chicharito is to move to Madrid on a permanent basis, it will cost the club a reported €10m. For a player who scores goals, invites fanaticism, and doesn’t seem to mind doing those things from the bench, the club might just end up seeing that figure as value for money.
Read more from Leyla Hemed here