The manner of Javier Hernandez’s £10 million move from Mexican side Chivas Guadalajara to Manchester United was remarkable for its secrecy.
The player, nicknamed ‘Little Pea’ for his green eyes and diminutive size, was ushered into Old Trafford without the knowledge of his fellow players, his family and even his agent, such was worry the move would be hijacked by circling Spanish clubs if it became public.
Now knowledgeable commentators are comparing the hidden gem to a certain Old Trafford legend: Ole Gunnar Solskaer.
Like the Norwegian hitman, who arrived in similarly understated circumstances, Hernandez is a lethal finisher, has a babyface appearance and is said to possess a level-headedness absent in many young stars.
But who else could Hernandez, 9/1 to open the scoring goal in his country’s match against England at Wembley tonight, resemble?
Another 2010 World Cup forward, Uruguayan Diego Forlan springs to mind.
Like Hernandez, Forlan arrived at Old Trafford from Latin America as a relative unknown, apart from a blossoming reputation on the international scene. Hernandez has scored four goals in eight games for Mexico including the winner against New Zealand that impressed the watching United scout.
Forlan’s time at United was ultimately disappointing but his move to Spain has seen him become one of Europe’s most sought-after and he is 50/1 to finish as the tournament’s top scorer.
The pre-World Cup transfer also bears the hallmarks of Newcastle United’s purchase of Stéphane Guivarc’h before the 1998 tournament, with the club mindful that their target was about to be put it in the world’s widest shop window.
The France striker started five games for the hosts on their way to winning the trophy but failed to score a single goal.
Newcastle fans were equally bemused once he turned out at St James’s Park and Guivarc’h was shipped out to Rangers four games and one goal later. Mexico are 100/1 to repeat France’s win.
It is doubtful that Hernandez will come to mirror Manucho’s United career though. A surprise summer 2008 signing, he was the first ever Angolan to play for United, albeit just one game. Manucho was subsequently loaned to Hull City, where he scored two goals, and then sold to Real Valladolid last summer.
The move was seen by some as a way of United tapping in to the African market, and the same could be said about Hernandez and North America. Little Pea will be the first Mexican to pull on a United shirt but the idea he’s been bought to sell replica versions is more than a tad cynical and, due to his prominence in the Mexico side, very unlikely.