Striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will miss the Olympics a second straight time, heeding the wishes of his club team and the Mexican national team, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Hernandez should play one of the two major summer international tournaments — Copa America Centenario in June or the Rio Olympics in August — his club, Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen, reportedly said in January.
It’s a common choice for the best players in North and South America, most notably for Brazil superstar Neymar, who will play the Olympics, but not Copa America.
Copa America is a tournament for senior national teams, while the Olympics is for U-23 teams, plus three over-age players per roster. With the Olympics riding up against the start of the 2016-17 European season, Copa America is preferable for many clubs.
Clubs are under no obligation to release players to compete in the Olympics, unlike Copa America Centenario.
“The [Mexican soccer] federation wants me to go to Copa America, and I decided to go to Copa America,” Hernandez said, according to the newspaper. “Not because I don’t want to go to the Olympics. It’s because it’s the best for … my club, for me and for the federation.”
Hernandez, 27 and a former Manchester United star, played in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and ranks second in the national team’s record books in goals scored.
Manchester United kept Hernandez from the London Games, for rest purposes, and Mexico went on to win its first soccer medal (a gold) without him.