Major League Soccer has begun negotiations with Bayer Leverkusen and Mexico international forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez over a possible move to the U.S., multiple league sources told ESPN FC.
One source said the aim is to bring Hernandez to MLS in the summer of 2018 -- after the expiration of his current contract with Leverkusen -- and thus avoid paying a transfer fee.
There are bound to be other suitors interested in securing Hernandez's services given his international profile, and Leverkusen will be keen to cash in while it still can. So it's possible that MLS's hand could be forced to pay a transfer fee if the competition for Hernandez heats up.
Hernandez's agent did not respond when asked to comment on a potential move to MLS.
This isn't the first time MLS has made a push for the striker. Hernandez was reportedly a target of both the Chicago Fire and Orlando City back in 2015, but his desire to remain in Europe and play in the UEFA Champions League prevented a deal from getting done.
One source indicated that Hernandez's annual salary could be upwards of $9 million, which would be the highest in MLS, but negotiations remain fluid.
Players of Hernandez's stature also make considerable sums in the seven-figure range from marketing rights, so his total compensation will likely far exceed what would be listed on an MLS club's books.
Los Angeles FC, which is set to begin play in 2018, and the LA Galaxy are the two teams reported to have interest in Hernandez. However, representatives from both teams declined to comment.
Hernandez, 28, has spent the bulk of his career in Europe after starting his career with Chivas in 2006. His breakout season in Liga MX came in 2009-10, when he scored 21 goals in 28 league matches. Those performances caught the eye of Manchester United and Hernandez moved to the club before the 2010-11 campaign.
The Mexico international's first season with United saw him score 20 goals in 45 matches, but his influence gradually waned. After scoring a total of 50 goals for United in 157 league and cup appearances, he was loaned to Real Madrid for the 2014-15 campaign. Hernandez scored nine goals in 33 matches for Los Blancos.
He eventually secured a transfer to Leverkusen prior to the 2015-16 season, where he revived his career, scoring 26 goals in 40 matches. He has continued his fine form into the current campaign, netting 12 times 28 matches.
Hernandez is Mexico's second all-time leading scorer, with 45 goals in 88 appearances.