Raul Jimenez, the Mexican flair that Wolves needed
Raul Jimenez joined Wolves permanently on Thursday, after the English club triggered a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave Benfica for £30 million, becoming the club's record signing.
The Mexican has signed a contract with the club that will last up until 2023, with the 27-year-old forward still having plenty of years ahead of him.
Whilst his £30 million buy-out clause might have seemed to be a joke at first, considering that the forward had scored only 13 goals in 52 league appearances for the Portuguese side, this transfer now seems like a bargain, with him scoring 12 goals in just 32 Premier League appearances for Wolves. This might not seem like the most impressive record ever, but to add to his 12 goals, he has also assisted seven others.
Jimenez has become an integral part of the team at Wolverhampton, with most of the team's play going through him. His link-up play has been magnificent, along with his dribbling, completing 0.9 dribbles every game, along with having 1.2 key passes every match.
What is remarkable is that the Mexican has become a natural goalscorer for the team, with him scoring all of his 12 Premier League goals from inside the box, having a respectable conversion rate of 16%.
Apart from scoring goals and providing assists, Jimenez has helped Wolves massively when it comes to pressing from the front, with his manager, Nuno Espirito Santo, going so far as to say that "He's giving us the first moment of reaction to loss of the balls," and it is evident, with him being amongst the top ten when it comes to high-intensity sprints in the Premier League.
Wolves have become somewhat of a bogey club for several top clubs, as they successfully won against Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United, whilst also getting valuable points against the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal. Apart from this, they have also managed to knock out Liverpool and Manchester United in the FA Cup, and have reached the semi-finals as a result.
However, Wolves have managed to struggle against the unlikeliest of teams. The newly-promoted club has struggled against already relegated Huddersfield Town, with the Terriers doing the double over Wolves. To add to this, Wolves have also got beaten by Cardiff City and Burnley, who are all relegation candidates.
Wolves' massive squad reshuffle that happened in the summer of 2017, seems to be paying dividends, as Jimenez and Diogo Jota have formed an astounding attacking relationship, and ever since Nuno changed the formation in December, the pair have been even deadlier than before. To put this into perspective, Jimenez has scored 15 goals in all competitions this season, yet 12 of them have come after the manager changed the formation in December, suiting the Mexican even more.
Wolves may struggle against lower-placed teams, but their ambition to reach the top and break into the Top 6 is admirable, especially considering that this is their first Premier League campaign since they were relegated in 2011-12, and with the signing of Jimenez, they seem to be making an even greater statement.