When Raul Jimenez signed for Wolves, many supporters might have been justified if they met the acquisition with a degree of scepticism.
Since Fosun had taken over the club, their recruitment from an offensive point of view hadn’t exactly set the world alight. They did bring in Diogo Jota and Helder Costa in the Championship but, as far as an out and out striker goes, it wasn’t particularly eye-catching.
They brought in the likes of Benik Afobe, Ivan Cavaleiro, Leo Bonatini and Rafa Mir. The less said about their stints at Molineux the better.
Mir has been particularly anonymous in a Wolves shirt and is yet to score in the Old Gold. However, he is currently among some of the top scorers in La Liga while on loan at Huesca.
There has been one anomaly down the years – Raul Jimenez. The Mexican has become a shining light in this Wolves side and is a beacon of hope in Nuno Espirito Santo’s team.
It wasn’t a signing which set the world alight initially, though. Jimenez arrived in the Premier League on loan having failed to really have an impact on European shores.
The forward had scored just once for Atletico Madrid in 28 outings and then fired in 31 in 120 for Benfica. Far from a regular goalscorer, he has now blossomed into one of the most consistent forwards in the English top flight.
Jimenez was valued at just £9m in 2018 but, since his move to Wolves, his value has increased substantially to £31.5m, an increase of 250%. At one stage, it had even risen to a whopping £45m (Transfermarkt). The reason for this rise is simple; he scores goals.
Jimenez has only improved as the years have passed. As his value rose beyond the £40m mark, the Wolves striker scored 27 goals and racked up 10 assists during the 2019/20 campaign.
It was a wonderful campaign for the Mexican as he also impressed in Europe, beating the goalkeeper on four occasions. 2019 was a stunning year for Jimenez but it was a brutal one too as he played 69 matches for club and country.
His performances have been so good, though, that not only has he earned praise from his manager, someone who describes him as “special”, but also his opponents.
Ilkay Gundogan said in 2020: “I think he has everything a world-class striker needs”. The Manchester City midfielder added: “For a striker he is so mobile, but also physically so good and talented technically on the ball. I can imagine him playing with us.
“Maybe [he’s] not on that level yet, but he reminds me a little bit of Lewandowski because I’ve played with him. In terms of style I think there is still a lot of potential.”
Jimenez has been a key component for Wolves, so much so that without him they have faded.
Nuno’s men have duly suffered the consequences. They are 12th in the Premier League and have struggled to score goals without their talisman. Willian Jose hasn’t found the net at all after his January arrival, while new club-record signing Fabio Silva has only netted three times all season.
Wolves fans will no doubt be pining for Jimenez’s return.