The Galaxy have agreed to a three-year contract with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez that will make the Mexican striker the highest paid player in MLS, a person with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed Friday. Precise terms of the deal were not known, but the team is expected to officially announce the signing next week.
Hernandez, 31, is Mexico’s all-time leading scorer, and he will replace departed Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the lineup and on the marquee. He will also team with LAFC forward Carlos Vela to give a Los Angeles market teeming with Latino fans two of Mexico’s most prolific goal scorers. Ibrahimovic was the highest paid player in MLS last season with a salary of $7.2 million and Michael Bradley of Toronto FC was next at $6.5 million.
“He is a scoring machine — he’s always there looking to score goals — and he does a really good job defending for his team,” Vela, the reigning MLS most valuable player, said earlier this week as speculation of Hernandez’s move to Los Angeles grew. “I think the Mexican fans would be excited.”
Hernandez moved from England’s West Ham United to Sevilla for a transfer fee of approximately $8.7 million in September, but his reduced role with the Spanish club — he’s appeared in only two games since Nov. 2 — apparently sparked his interest in moving to MLS.
It is unclear how much of a transfer fee the Galaxy will have to pay Sevilla. The largest transfer fee the Galaxy have paid for a player was $7 million, for Giovani dos Santos in 2015.
Hernandez should fill some of the offensive void left by Ibrahimovic, who scored 53 goals in 58 games between the regular season and playoffs the past two seasons for the Galaxy and was the face of the franchise before signing a short-term deal with AC Milan.
Though his nickname translates to “little pea,” Hernandez is a relatively physical 5-foot-9 striker who has scored 52 goals in 109 international games since debuting for Mexico’s national team in 2009.
In 244 games in the English Premier League since 2010, he has 89 goals, making appearances for Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and West Ham before joining Sevilla.