Wolves Have Got Something Special In Raul Jimenez
April 4, 2019
Tuesday was a night of contrasting fortunes for two of the promoted sides. As Wolves secured a 2-1 win over Manchester United, their second such successive home victory over the Premier League powerhouse, Fulham were relegated with a 4-1 loss at Watford. The Cottagers spent big in the summer, but a lack of direction with their investment meant the performances failed to live up to expectations.
Conversely, Wolves brought in players to suit an established system and the success shows. Victory at Molineux in midweek saw them retain their spot in seventh in the Premier League after the weekend’s setback at Burnley. The win over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side also marked another fine showing from striker Raul Jimenez. Wolves announced his club-record capture just this morning after what has been a stunning loan spell so far.
The Mexican and Wolves took a huge gamble in signing a striker who’d rarely been a first choice striker in his two years at Benfica. Indeed, he made just 12 league starts in 24 months in Portugal, but in that time, he had a direct hand in 20 league goals, scoring 13, registering a goal and assist every 87.2 minutes in Liga NOS, as per WhoScored.com.
The All-Round Package
With Wolves, the decision to acquire a striker who’d struggled with regular action was a gamble, but it’s paid off handsomely. Indeed, Jimenez has scored 12 and registered seven assists in his debut top-flight campaign, having a direct hand in a goal every 152.7 minutes. It’s a dip from Liga NOS, but in a tougher league for a side that is looking to re-establish themselves in the Premier League rather than dominate in Portugal, it’s hugely impressive to say the least.
Wolves have themselves a player on their hands, that’s for sure, with his fine work both on and off the ball benefitting the team and Jimenez’s teammates. He has the ideal traits to succeed as the lone frontman and in Nuno Espirito Santo’s current setup, the Mexico international is shining. The fact that he is second for key passes per game (1.2) of all Wolves players, as per WhoScored.com, highlights his impressive performances and the crucial aspect of his approach in the buildup play.
“We are happy with Raul and his performances,” Santo said of Jimenez recently and while he was reserved in his praise of the hitman, supporters are far more enthusiastic over his impact in his first season in England. To have tied him down to a four-year deal is a huge boost for the club as they ran the possible risk of losing him over the summer to one of the league’s bigger hitters after such a stunning season.
Stylistly Perfect For Wolves
The utilisation of wing-backs has also had a positive impact on Jimenez’s start to life with Wolves with the 27-year-old boasting the required physical attributes to play as a lone forward. He ranks highest for aerial duels won per game (2.2) of all Wolves players, while those in support, be it Diogo Jota, Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa or Adama Traore, are also feeling the effects of a striker of his calibre and style.
Jota, in particular, is excelling with all four of his assists coming for a Jimenez goal. Conversely, three of the latter’s assists have been for the former to net. This blossoming understanding with one another is a key reason why Wolves are flying upon their return to the Premier League. The correct scouting and acquisition of players to suit a specific system is having a positive effect on the team and after handing Jimenez a lifeline, Santo and his side are being rewarded with a series of superb displays, particularly in 2019.
With the Gold Cup quickly approaching, too, Mexico will profit from his excellent form, especially with Chicharito struggling for consistency. The West Ham striker may be El Tri’s record goalscorer, but Jimenez has given head coach Gerardo Martino plenty of food for thought coming into the summer competition as Mexico aim to secure an 8th Gold Cup and it could well prove that Martino is better suited using Jimenez rather than Chicharito this summer.
For Wolves fans, though, as they gear up for a trip to Wembley, they can rest easy knowing their star striker is tied down to a long-term contract and use the morale-boosting permanent capture to secure a final berth at Watford’s expense this weekend. Having had a direct hand in 48% of their league goals, and notching a crucial goal in the FA Cup win over Manchester United last month, you can be sure that Jimenez has another big role to play in the capital as Wolves go in search of silverware and a spot in Europe for next season.