Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez says he left Manchester United because Louis van Gaal told him he only had a “one percent” chance of getting into the team.
Mexico international Hernandez joined Bayer Leverkusen on the penultimate day of the summer transfer window and has scored 15 goals in his last 12 games for the Bundesliga club, while United have found goals hard to come by.
Van Gaal only granted Hernandez three substitute appearances at the start of the current campaign, preferring to use captain Wayne Rooney as his main striker and then signing Anthony Martial for a fee that could rise to £58.8 million.
“I spoke with Van Gaal and he said that I only had a one percent chance of playing in my position, so I headed to Bayer,” Hernandez told Spanish TV show “Fiebre Maldini” in quotes reported by Marca. “I felt confident from the very first day.
“I feel important, not just because of my goals, but because I feel that I’ll start every game.”
Van Gaal sent Hernandez on loan to Real Madrid last season and the 27-year-old explained: “He told me that I’d have to fight for my place, but that if the right offer came up I should take it. Real Madrid came in for me and it wasn’t a tough decision.”
Hernandez joined United in 2010 from Guadalajara and was named their player of the year in his debut campaign at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson.
He went on to score 59 goals in 157 goals for United but spent much of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons as a substitute.
“I was extremely lucky to be the first [Mexican] player to move to one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he said. “I had a great time there. I had an incredible start, full of opportunities, although those opportunities dwindled over time and things took a turn for the worse.
“I’m so grateful to Ferguson. I think he’s the best there’s ever been, especially his squad management skills. Every player had his place. A squad player could still play 15 games a season.
“He opened the door to Europe for me and I won two league titles there.”
Hernandez scored nine goals in 33 games for Real, including a Champions League quarterfinal winner against Atletico Madrid.
He said of his Real career: “I’d split my time there into two stages. Firstly, I was on the bench. I was in the squad, but I wasn’t out on the pitch winning games.
“Thank God I got my chance and the game against Atletico Madrid was one of my best. I’ll always remember how Real Madrid fans said that I should have played more.”
Meanwhile, Nick Powell pressed his case for a place in Van Gaal’s struggling United team by scoring a brace for their under-21 side against Leicester.