According to reports, the West Ham United’s Croatian manager has narrowed down his search for a striker to just two players, Leverkusen’s Javier Hernandez and Benfica’s Raul Jimenez. A host of other clubs are also interested in the services of the Benfica forward, including Merseyside clubs Liverpool and Everton, who are in fact, readying a £39million bid for the 26-year-old.
After failing to break into the Atletico line up, Raul Jimenez made a move to the Portuguese Liga NOS, two years ago for a hefty fee of 22 million euros.
However, despite his limited action at Atletico, he still impressed manager Diego Simeone.
“The boy hasn’t been seen even for one day with a long face or poor predisposition,” he said in March 2015, as reported by ESPN FC.
“He’s competing with footballers that have been at the club years, like [Fernando] Torres, who has come in but knows the place, and with Mandzukic, a key player for us.”
At 26 years of age, Jimenez has successfully established himself as a regular national team player with Mexico, managing 50 caps already. He helped his country win the Olympics gold medal in 2012, whilst being a key figure in their World Cup, Copa America and Confederations Cup campaigns.
Jimenez is an extremely versatile striker, a key component to have for any number nine. Normally a centre-forward by trade, he is fairly comfortable on the wings. He can be an intimidating presence for the opposing defenders thanks to his 6-foot 3-inch figure, but despite his height, the Mexican International is incredibly mobile on the pitch.
Unlike any other striker, Raul Jimenez can work around the defence, crafting spaces or running in behind, even shifting to wider positions to help create more flexibility to their overall offensive play.
He has an impressive shot accuracy of 64%, most by any Benfica player except Jonas(65%). Having scored seven goals in just 16 shots on target proves his clinical nature as a striker, who doesn’t waste many chances. His tall figure also allows him to be more dominant in the air.
He is a sort of player who can thrive off good aerial deliveries into the box. Another notable trait for the Mexican striker is his ability with the ball. Being a big man and still having a good control of the ball is a rarity, but Jimenez is one of the players who bucks the trend, as he is fairly decent when it comes to carrying the ball and shifting it to the other players.
Unfortunately, Raul Jimenez has some significant weaknesses in his game. Firstly, the Benfica forward is far from a perfect target man. Implying that it will almost be necessary for a Premier League coach to put another striker alongside Jimenez considering how filthy at times, a game can be in the English top flight.
He made only five takes-ons last season, which is enough to prove that he isn’t a great dribbler. In addition, Jimenez is also a tad too lazy when it comes to defending. Put simply, the Mexican hates defending, managing a total of ONLY TWO clearances in 19 matches last season.
No interceptions, no blocks, no defensive actions at all, which could be a concern for any team with a counter-attacking philosophy, especially Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
He also isn’t that great with his passing either, having only 74% pass completion rate and averaging only ten completed passes per game.
[All stats taken from Squawka]
Raul Jimenez could be a perfect solution to West Ham and Liverpool’s striker problems. He can be a good replacement for Daniel Sturridge, should he leave Liverpool this summer.
As for West Ham, the Mexican will offer a lot of hope for the Hammers’ fans and with the quality they possess in the creative department, it’s almost given that the Benfica man will thrive at the East London outfit. For Everton, however, it doesn’t seem to be an ideal move, having already signed striker Sandro Ramirez.
Jimenez is yet to prove himself in the bigger leagues. Also, his lack of game time might prove to be a problem for him in the future. Even in Benfica, the striker hasn’t featured regularly for the Portuguese Champions so there comes a question regarding Jimenez, as to whether will he be able to lead the charge or not. Considering his hefty price tag of 39 million euros, Raul Jimenez is most definitely a gamble.
Anas Ali Molla
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