Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez ‘Important, Happy’ As Leverkusen Adventure Begins

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has bolted from England to Germany in order to shed the dreaded “super-sub” tag.

Hernandez joined Bayer Leverkusen from Manchester United on Monday. Leverkusen paid the Red Devils around £12 million ($18.3 million) for the Mexican striker, who moves to the Bundesliga (German first division) club in search of fulfillment after three seasons as a squad player at Manchester United and Real Madrid.

“I want to go back to feeling important and happy,” Chicharito said in his introductory press conference Tuesday, according to The Mail. “I want to find happiness. Bayer made me feel important and loved and coming here was not a difficult decision to make. They made me feel wanted.”

Hernandez initially made a big impact at Manchester United after moving to Old Trafford in summer 2010, but Robin van Persie’s 2012 arrival reduced his role in the Red Devils’ squad to that of a substitute and spot starter. Hernandez’s confidence deteriorated over time, and a loan spell last season at Real Madrid couldn’t revive his form, which he admitted reached “rock-bottom.”

Hernandez also said at his press conference Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal didn’t think he could rely on him to play the striker position in his system.

Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt made an impression on Hernandez, who also received rave reviews about his new boss from former teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger.

“Naturally I spoke with Basti,” Hernandez said, according to The Mail. “He had a lot of good things to say about Bayer, their way of playing and their coach (Roger Schmidt),” Hernandez said. “That was a very big help for me.”

Hernandez, 27, now has a three-year contract and the prospect of regular starts at a smaller club in an important league — something former Mexico coach Miguel Herrera in April advised him to pursue. Stefan Kiessling is Hernandez’s main rival for minutes at striker, but both should play a lot this season, as Leverkusen will compete in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal (German Cup) and UEFA Champions League.

Hernandez enters this new chapter in his career with plenty to prove and achieve. He is set to become the first Mexican to play for clubs in Spain, England and Germany — three of Europe’s big-five leagues — and also is chasing his country’s international goals record. The player who has endured years of frustration, promise, success and pain stands to gain a measure of redemption.

Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@bayer04fussball

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