SOCCER

Columbus Crew finalize record deal for Cucho Hernández

ADVERTISEMENT

Since preseason, and publicly since Gyasi Zardes was traded to the Colorado Rapids on April 22, the Columbus Crew’s transfer goal has been to add a designated player forward who could make a significant offensive impact. Now the club are close, with sources close to the situation confirming to Massive Report that a record deal for Watford FC striker Juan “Cucho” Hernández, who last season played in the English Premier League before being relegated , is imminent and will likely be completed and announced next week. The contract is a multi-year deal worth more than $10 million.

While more details are expected in the coming days, Massive Report has learned that Hernández will sign a multi-year DP deal with the crew and the transfer fee for the player from Watford is north of $10 million. The deal would break the club’s previous record transfer fee of around $8 million spent on midfielder Lucas Zelarayan ahead of the 2020 season.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hernández checks all the boxes for what head coach Caleb Porter and the Black & Gold want in a forward. The Colombian is 23, has experience playing professionally in Colombia, Spain and England and has the potential to be a prolific goalscorer in Major League Soccer.

However, it’s not just scoring goals that Hernández brings to Columbus. Cucho has experience from set pieces, played on the wing on the front three – although he will be a striker for the crew – and has shown a great willingness to press on the attacking half of the pitch. The Colombia international is a threat on both sides of the ball. Although his height of 5ft 9in does not match the usual striker prototype used by Porter, Hernández remains an average of three aerial challenges won per game, a clip higher than most strikers in MLS.

Massive Report has learned that Hernández has already been to Columbus for a medical and to visit the OhioHealth Performance Center. Hernández, who has since left the United States, won’t see the pitch right away due to the specifics of the visa and transfer window.

Once Hernández’s visa is secured and all paperwork completed, he can begin training with the team but will not see the pitch until the summer transfer window opens on July 7. . This puts a tentative start for the striker on July 9 when the crew travels. to Soldier Field to battle the Chicago Fire.

The striker arrives at Columbus after joining Watford in 2017. During his time with the Hornets, Hernández had loan spells across Spain. Initially, Watford sent the striker to Huesca in the Spanish Second Division. Hernández led Huesca in goals with 17 and was second on the team in assists with six. Huesca was promoted thanks to Hernández’s play in La Liga, the top division of Spanish football.

Production of the new Columbus forward dropped over the next two seasons, jumping between La Liga sides. In 2022, Watford retained Hernández’s services on the pitch and in 11 Premier League starts, Hernández has scored five goals and assisted in two. Watford were relegated after finishing in 19e place in the Premier League table with just 23 points.

Along with the excitement, there is one area to watch closely. In April, Hernández suffered a hamstring injury that nearly sidelined him for the rest of the season. Luckily for Hernández, he returned for 19 minutes as a substitute against Chelsea on 22 May. Since then, Hernández has played 45 minutes as a second-half substitute against Saudi Arabia in an international friendly.

Hernández joins a crew roster that needs more of the forward position. In 14 games, the Black & Gold have five forward goals, with current forwards Erik Hurtado and Miguel Berry scoring two each and Zardes scoring one against the San Jose Earthquakes on March 5.

ADVERTISEMENT