Wolverhampton Wanderers‘ new manager Julen Lopetegui has been backed to revive the Molineux career of Raul Jimenez.
The Lowdown: Downward spiral
After signing from Benfica in 2018, the Mexican hit the ground running in the Premier League, ending his first year in England with 13 goals and seven assists from 38 league games. His second season at Wolves was even better and saw him reach the heights of 17 goals and six assists from another 38-match top-flight campaign.
Whilst Jimenez was on track for another solid season in 2020/21, a traumatic head injury in the form of a fractured skull two years ago this week halted his progress.
Since then, the 31-year-old has struggled to get back to being the ruthless striker of his first two years in England, making just three appearances in the Premier League this season as injuries continue to plague him.
The Latest: Jimenez could be revived under Lopetegui
However, according to journalist Dean Jones, Lopetegui will not be too disheartened with Jimenez’s performances for Mexico at the World Cup, where he and his team are yet to score, and believes that the striker gives his club boss “something to work with”.
Asked by GIVEMESPORT whether Lopetegui would have been impressed by the 31-year-old’s performances in Qatar, Jones said: “No, but look, there’s something to work with here. We know it’s been difficult for him to regain form and confidence. And that’s going to be the big thing for the manager now as he casts his eye over the squad.
“He’s taking charge properly now from this week, and properly getting a grasp of the players at its disposal, will be able to meet the ones that aren’t on World Cup duty, start working with a few of them.”
The Verdict: Last-chance saloon?
With his contract set to expire in the summer of 2024, the next 18 months represent Jimenez’s last chance to earn a new contract with Wolves.
Essentially, Lopetegui will either make or break the Mexico forward’s future at Molineux, depending on whether he sees use in a player who notched 17 goals in the Premier League just three seasons ago.
As Jones rightly points out, it cannot be denied that the new Wolves boss certainly has a valuable asset in the £100k-per-week Jimenez.
It just depends on whether Lopetegui’s arrival can spark a renaissance from the Mexican after a couple of difficult years in the Black Country.
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