Galaxy Hope Chicharito Signing Strengthens Appeal, Off-Field Impact
The Galaxy acquired F Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez for a $9.4M transfer fee, signing him to a three-year contract worth $6M per season, and he is "worth that expenditure ... because his value extends beyond the field," according to Avi Creditor of SI.com. The "demand for a quality, Mexican product on the field is clear, and in El Tri's all-time leading scorer, the Galaxy surely have landed that." At 31, it is "not at all too late" for a player of Hernandez' caliber, "box-office allure and ability to resonate with the fan base." While this is a "smash-hit signing for MLS at this point in time, it's also about an identity and legacy play for the Galaxy." They have "seen their new crosstown neighbor, LAFC, set regular-season records and land paradigm-changing and record-setting players of their own." But no matter the "challengers to their throne as the league's box-office king," the Galaxy "remain the standard-bearer at luring marquee names and attaching them to their brand." Hernandez has the "potential to be beloved among Galaxy supporters like no other player before him, and the club is banking on him resonating as such" (SI.com, 1/21). The Galaxy "spared little time promoting their new player at its official store at Dignity Health Sports Park" -- putting Hernandez' jerseys on sale for $175 (ESPN.com, 1/21).
MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN: In L.A., Kevin Baxter writes Hernandez "gets a new start in Southern California, home to more than 6 million Mexican-Americans and a place where he's already a star." Galaxy GM Dennis te Kloese said, "This is a very specific place we're at in L.A., with so many Mexicans. I don't have to tell you who Javier is and what he can bring. But how big his impact will be will be defined by how good he can be on the field" (L.A. TIMES, 1/22). ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle wrote the marketing possibilities "seem endless" for the Galaxy after signing Hernandez. He will provide fans a "much-needed shot of adrenaline" heading into the '20 season. However, USC Marshall Sports Business Institute Exec Dir David Carter is "wary of the line of thinking that if you sign a star from a particular demographic, fans will immediately flock to games." That "hasn't been true for MLS in the past and isn't likely to be now" (ESPN.com, 1/21).
ART OF THE DEAL: Galaxy President Chris Klein said that MLS clubs have "continually been in touch" with Hernandez' camp to "feel out his interest in a stateside move." Klein said, "The last time we talked to him before this round was before the 2019 season." But FORBES' Chris Smith wrote at that point, there were "conflicts over contract terms and, more importantly, Chicharito's desire to stay in Europe." The deal to bring Hernandez to MLS "came together in a flash." Klein: "Negotiations started in December, in terms of seeing if there was an interest. When we came back from break in early January, they picked up in earnest. And when we saw there was an opportunity for a winter move, things really kicked up." Smith wrote although Hernandez "gives the Galaxy yet another international megastar," Klein "claims the off-field benefits were far down the list of priorities" (FORBES.com, 1/21).