In our Transfers that shook the club feature, Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at deals that many may not have seen coming and the impact that they had during their time by using statistical data and pundit remarks.
Wolves flexed their muscles in preparing for their Premier League return in 2018 by signing Mexico striker Raul Jimenez on loan from Benfica, with Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo plundering his homeland for additions to the squad as he had done by purchasing Ruben Neves from Porto the previous summer.
The Mexican was Nuno’s first signing in the summer following promotion from the Championship and swapped Champions League football with Benfica for a club who had just been promoted from the English second tier.
Jimenez made an immediate impact at Molineux, scoring on his competitive Wolves debut against Everton in their first match back in the Premier League. By the end of 2018, he had six league goals to his name, along with five assists, and he made a happy habit of landing blows on the division’s biggest names.
He set up goals in draws at Manchester United and Arsenal, scored in both games against Tottenham and netted in a come-from-behind home win over Chelsea, as per TransferMarkt. As a veteran of Champions League and World Cup football, he was a man for the big occasion who often came good when Nuno’s team faced ‘big six’ opposition.
As Wolves entered 2019 in seventh place, and with European football a distinct possibility, Jimenez kept the goals flowing in the team’s hunt for a continental tour.
He struck six times in seven league games during the first three months of the year, again making Chelsea suffer by scoring in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. A week later, he netted in a 2-1 win over Manchester United which took Wolves into the FA Cup and ensured a trip to Wembley, where he had won a gold medal with Mexico at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Indeed, the Molineux club didn’t even wait until the end of the season to take up the option to make Jimenez’s loan move a permanent transfer, the Mexican becoming Wolves’ all-time record signing at £30m in April, as per BBC.
Sky Sports‘ Ron Walker named him as one of his signings of the season, saying that “the Mexican has got his mojo back” and hailing “his quality as a traditional number nine” as “a big part in their success” last term.
Having done so much to get Wolves into Europe with his 2018/19 goal return, he went to town on Crusaders, FC Pyunik and Torino in the Europa League qualifiers, scoring six times in four games to help them reach the group stage.
He showed once again that he thrives on big occasions with the winning goal for Wolves against Slovan Bratislava last week, one which has them in a great position to reach the knockout rounds in February. [via Sky Sports]
After scoring 17 goals last season, Jimenez already has 10 for this campaign, his record of 27 in 63 Wolves appearances only four behind his entire tally for Benfica in almost twice as many games. [via TransferMarkt]
Just four years on from Benik Afobe being the club’s top scorer for the 2015/16 season with nine, Jimenez’s far superior scoring return is indicative of how much Wolves have progressed in that time.
“Si senor, give the ball to Raul and he will score” is a frequent chant at Molineux, and its sentiment has been demonstrated on many occasions by the 28-year-old, a man who has proven worthy of being the club’s most expensive signing of all time.
Did you think Jimenez would be a success at Wolves? Have you been surprised by how prolific he has been in his time at the club? Comment below with your views!
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