Raul Jimenez marked his 100th Wolves appearance with a goal against Sheffield United, but his excellent finish should come as no surprise as he has developed into one of the best forwards in world football. The industrious Mexican has racked up 45 goals and 20 assists in those 100 games, yet is often left out of the conversation when it comes to the top strikers on the planet. We decided to take a look at whether Jimenez is just hard done by, or if his competitors truly do have the edge on him.
For this analysis, we have decided to compare Jimenez’s numbers to a few of those considered to be the best in the world, such as: Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Karim Benzema.
In terms of consistently being available, Jimenez is right up there, appearing in all 38 Premier League games for Wolves last season alongside a draining Europa League campaign. This makes him a huge asset as other top class strikers such as Kane and Aguero have had multiple problems over the years with staying fit.
Now onto the numbers that matter – goals-wise, Jimenez was there or thereabouts compared to the others. Whilst Robert Lewandowski blew the rest away with an astonishing 34 league goals, Jimenez’s 17 wasn’t far behind Kane and co. It’s also worth noting that Jimenez notched another 10 goals in 15 Europa League games too. Despite a respectable goalscoring tally, Jimenez is way behind the rest when it comes to his 19.1% conversion rate. This is well short of Kane with 29%, Lewandowski with 29.8% and Aubameyang’s 31.4%. Interestingly this stat comes only just behind Benzema’s 19.6%. Although I personally wouldn’t associate Jimenez with spurning countless chances, it does seem that he just isn’t as lethal as the other elite strikers. This can definitely be considered somewhere that he can improve.
However, whilst scoring is arguably a forward’s most important job, what they bring to the team in other areas is vital too. When I’ve watched Jimenez, not only does he impress me with his endless work rate but also his willingness to be involved in not just the final third but also in the build up play. Whilst the system suits him very well at Wolves, I think they’d be a lot more blunt with him missing from their side, an opinion backed up by his 48 chances created last season which is only bettered by Benzema’s 60 and well clear of the other three. This ability to link up play is crucial to a team’s creativity and is further bolstered by the fact that Jimenez attempted more crosses than anyone bar Aubameyang in the comparison and this is likely to be down to Aubameyang’s recent prominence in a wider forward role rather than the traditional number 9. Furthermore, Jimenez completed more passes in the opposition half than everyone in the comparison apart from Benzema, who amassed an astounding 833, which wasn’t far off being twice as many as Jimenez in second place. I could go on, but the point I’m essentially making is that Jimenez is more than just a goalscorer and brings a lot more to his Wolves team and with the exception of Benzema, is ahead of the others in this respect.
So we’ve confirmed that Jimenez can score goals, create goals and contribute to overall team play, but another thing that sets him apart from his peers is his work rate. The Mexican is a nightmare to play against and although technically gifted on the floor, is equally adept at holding the ball up and winning it in the air too. Raul boasts an impressive 485 duels contested last season and you have to go all the way down to Harry Kane’s 382 to find second place here. Despite not being a vital part of a forward’s game, this is a great weapon in Wolves’ arsenal, as it allows them to relieve pressure when teams push forward.
To be able to have Jimenez leading the line tirelessly, making the ball stick when the team is struggling is massive. The Wolves talisman can also boast 5 headed goals in the league last season and managed to win 35 fouls for his team, a tally only bested by Kane and Lewandowski. To add to this, Jimenez isn’t afraid to get stuck in and do the dirty work and the fact that he recorded more clearances (32) and more interceptions (16) than any of the other players mentioned, further reinforces his immense all round ability.
In summary, we have considered Jimenez’s goalscoring prowess, creative ability and work ethic and despite lagging slightly behind in the goals department, he is absolutely amongst the best in the other departments. Obviously the goals cannot be ignored, however, he isn’t too far behind and it could easily be argued that if he found himself in a team such as Real Madrid or Bayern Munich like Benzema and Lewandowski, he could well become just as lethal. As the stats have shown, a lot of Jimenez’s talent lies in the somewhat unnoticed parts of his game and I think this is why he isn’t very often spoken about in the same conversations as the likes of Kane, Aubameyang, Aguero etc. The Mexican is a phenomenal player and I cannot believe there hasn’t been more interest in bringing him to a bigger club in the last few years. What Jimenez brings to a team isn’t just goals but he’s also able to improve the team as a whole and whilst being purely a finisher is perhaps enough for Bayern Munich in a rather uncompetitive Bundesliga, there are plenty of teams in the Premier League who could use someone to lead their line in the way he does.
I’m not arguing that Jimenez is the best striker in the world and he probably isn’t even in the top 3, but I think his goals and performances go massively under the radar and I think his teammates would absolutely say the same.
What do you think – is Jimenez the most underrated player in world football?
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