Jose Mourinho has prompted speculation that Manchester United will look to resign Javier Hernandez this summer, arguing that the Mexican would have scored “20 goals easy” this season under his management while suggesting the club are in the market for a new striker.
Hernandez joined United in 2010 and spent five years at Old Trafford, including one season on loan at Real Madrid, before leaving to join Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2015.
The Mexican drifted in and out of the United starting XI during his five-year spell in Manchester, with both injury and competition denying him a permanent role in the side.
Serving under Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, Hernandez made a name for himself as an impact sub and went on to cement his status as a firm fan favourite at Old Trafford.
The 27-year-old’s loan move to Madrid proved unsuccessful but the Mexican has since gone on to thrive at Leverkusen, scoring 38 goals for the club across the past two seasons.
And now, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s future at Old Trafford proving unclear, Mourinho has suggested that the club could seek to bring back Hernandez this summer in what would be a surprising transfer move.
Ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Sunderland on Sunday, Mourinho told the press that United’s limited goal-scoring success was down to ‘bad luck’ and the absence of a “killer” instinct among his men – but argued that 'Chicarito' would have flourished in front of goal under the Portuguese this season.
“I think clearly if you go for example for Paul Pogba, the number of times he's hit the posts are almost Guinness Book of Records,” Mourinho explained.
“Some of those would have been amazing goals. I remember a couple of direct free-kicks hitting the post, so we've seen lots of beautiful actions. It's not a problem of quality at all, it's a problem of luck.
“They are good players, they are creative players, they can create, but naturally they are not the kind of guy that is a killer.
“I give a simple example. In the way we play at Old Trafford, in the way we dominate opponents in the way we play in the box, I think 'Chicharito' would have 20 goals easy, even coming from the bench for the last 10 or 20 minutes.
“He is the guy that naturally the ball comes here, rebound here, rebounds there, boom - goal.
“If the goalkeeper saves it, he goes there, boom - goal. If the cross is coming, he anticipates the first post header - goal. And that's not even coming off the bench.”
When asked if he would be signing an experienced striker in the summer, Mourinho replied: “I cannot buy a striker more experience than Zlatan!"
He added: “We have Marcus, we believe in, that's no doubt. Are we going to buy a striker? Maybe, maybe.”
Van Gaal’s decision to sell Hernandez in 2015 was met with a fierce response from fans who lamented the loss of the characteristic Mexican. Numerous supporters have since called for the club to resign the player and Mourinho himself has expressed an interest in the 27-year-old.
Speaking earlier in the season, the Portuguese revealed that he would never have let the forward move on from United.
“Man Utd sold players that I would never sell and bought players that I would never buy," he said.
“I would have never have sold Angel Di Maria, Chicharito and Danny Welbeck. Never. No chance.”