UPDATE, June 21: The Columbus Crew have officially signed Colombian international forward Cucho Hernandez from English Championship side Watford, the club announced Tuesday morning.
The 23-year-old joins Columbus as a Young Designated Player on a deal through the 2025 MLS season. Per sources, he arrives for a club-record $10 million transfer fee – making him the seventh-most expensive signing in MLS history.
“Cucho is a world-class player who is still at an early stage of his career, and we could not be more excited to welcome him to the Columbus Crew,” club president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a release. “Our goal was to sign a forward who would not only be an individual attacking threat, but who would make us more dangerous as a team. Cucho is a versatile attacker whose agility, mobility and unpredictability make him a constant threat for opponents as he has demonstrated while playing against top-level opponents in some of the best leagues in Europe."
Cucho's played extensively in the Premier League and LaLiga, scoring against the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Arsenal and Valencia. He's been capped twice by Colombia.
UPDATE, June 20: The Columbus Crew have completed the signing of Colombian international forward Cucho Hernandez from Watford, sources tell MLSsoccer.com.
The deal is worth just over $10 million, which amounts to the seventh-most expensive signing in MLS history. Hernandez signed a contract through 2025 and will be a Young Designated Player.
ORIGINAL – June 18: The Columbus Crew are finalizing a club-record deal to sign Colombian international forward Cucho Hernandez from English Championship side Watford, sources tell MLSsoccer.com.
Hernandez would be a Designated Player for the Crew, addressing a position of need Columbus' front office has publicly addressed since trading US international striker Gyasi Zardes to the Colorado Rapids in April. Their previous club-record deal was for DP midfielder Lucas Zelarayan when he arrived before the 2020 campaign from Liga MX's Tigres for a reported near-$8 million.
SB Nation site Massive Report first reported the deal was close.
The 23-year-old center forward had five goals and two assists in the Premier League this year for Watford after spending 2020-21 on loan at Getafe in LaLiga, where he had two goals and three assists. He's also spent time at Spanish sides Huesca and Mallorca after developing in his home country, accruing 25 Premier League appearances and 79 LaLiga matches. Watford were relegated following the 2021-22 EPL campaign.
Hernandez has featured twice for the Colombian senior national team, scoring twice on his debut in a 2018 friendly vs. Costa Rica and then getting a 45-minute runout in a friendly vs. Saudi Arabia two weeks ago. He was key to Colombia's quarterfinal run at the FIFA 2019 U-20 World Cup.
Fit in Columbus
The move gives Columbus a new star in their attack, taking a DP spot alongside Zelarayan (Armenian international) and former US international midfielder Darlington Nagbe. Since trading Zardes, most of their No. 9 minutes have gone to Miguel Berry and Erik Hurtado.
The 2020 MLS Cup champions enter MLS Week 15 sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, just three points back of an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot. They host expansion side Charlotte FC on Saturday evening (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
The MLS Secondary Transfer Window opens July 7 and runs through Aug. 4.