Wolverhampton Wanderers have had one of the best Premier League seasons ever for a newly promoted side.
They are looking well-placed to secure a top-eight finish, and have occupied a class above most former Championship sides in recent memory, especially Cardiff and Fulham who came up with them at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.
The gulf in performances between these sides has been astonishing. Part of the reason for Wolves’ success has been the summer loan acquisition of Raul Jimenez, who has had a hugely impressive start to life in England’s top flight. The question is, could the Mexican go on to rub shoulders with some of the hottest forwards in the division?
Impressive Debut Returns
Jimenez joined Wolves from Portuguese giants Benfica in the summer on a loan deal with the option to buy. Widely considered as the signing of the season across the whole division, the Midlands club are now interested in activating the clause and signing the player on a permanent basis in a deal worth around £30 million, according to Reuters.
In 80 outings for Aguias, Jimenez only managed to muster 18 goals in the Primeira Liga across three seasons after joining in 2015 for around £10 million. In his 71 showings for Mexico, the forward has only bagged 17 goals. The traditional number 9 has been lauded for his hold-up play in the past, but his meagre returns before landing in England make his stats this year even more astounding.
After 33 Premier League games played, Jiménez had recorded 16 goals and seven assists across all competitions, with twelve strikes coming in the league. This puts him just behind Arsenal’s £46.5 million signing Alexandre Lacazette and ahead of Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino who had 13 goals and seven assists and 12 goals and six assists respectively.
Jimenez’s forte has been his movement in and around the box, and a lot of his goals have been poacher’s efforts from being in the right place at the right time. Alvaro Morata was signed by Chelsea for this purpose, but the Spaniard simply couldn’t cut it in England’s top division. If a former Real Madrid player wasn’t up to the task, it puts more value on what Jimenez has managed to do.
How Does Jimenez Stack up Against the Best?
Jimenez’s output is far from being up there with the current best strikers in the division, but it must be remembered that he is plying his trade in a side who were fighting in the Championship last time out. At the start of the campaign, Wolves were 11/10 with Betway to finish in the top half of the table. Now, they are odds-on at 1/50. There is no denying that Nuno Espirito Santo and his charges have exceeded expectations, and have also given themselves a platform to mount an onslaught on the top six next term.
Sergio Aguero, Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang would be considered the current elite strikers in the top flight, and each of them plays for a side in the top four. Aguero has seven more goals to his name than Jimenez, Salah has six, and the other two have five more. These players are all challenging for titles and places in the Champions League, and also have high numbers of elite players around them providing assists.
When compared alongside Kane, Jimenez has superior stats in terms of involvement. After 33 games, the Wolves man had registered 1417 touches to the England international’s 1035. He was touching the ball every 1.8 minutes to Kane’s 2.3, and also receiving a pass more frequently according to stats from Fantasy Football Scout. With the Tottenham Hotspur man considered to be one of the hardest working players in the division, these figures show that the Wolves man is even more of a team player who constantly wants to get involved.
If Wolves continue to make clever signings in the transfer market and add players like Maxi Gomez, Jimenez could embark on an even more fruitful campaign next term. And if Santo manages to turn the recently promoted side into top four contenders, the striker could soon be considered among the best in the league.