Raul Jimenez is known to be one of the most complete strikers in the Premier League. While he only comes close to Harry Kane in that regard, the Mexican is still a very potent goalscorer. But the fact that he’s improved as a striker can not be said without going deep into his performances.
The former Atletico Madrid man’s last season at the Los Rojiblancos saw him play only 558 minutes of first-team football. As a result of that, a move to the newly-promoted Wolves followed and the striker was to lead the club’s line in his very first season.
Under Nuno Santo last season, Jimenez got 13 goals and seven assists while playing 38 games of Premier League football. This season, he has found the net 11 times already and also has a tally of six assists. On average, those are better numbers than last season.
Recently, Nuno was asked about Jimenez’s future and in the process, the Portuguese hailed the striker. He told Express and Star:
“He has been sensational and fantastic for us. Being ambitious, having ambitions and dreaming is something that all of us have.
“But we live day by day and our present is very good with Raul here.
“Our ambitions are built on the present, on a daily basis. What he is doing is amazing – every day of his life is dedicated to Wolves, so we are delighted with it.”
Last season, Wolves created an XG per 90 of 1.39. This season, they’ve shown an improvement in that regard by creating an XG per 90 of 1.45. A lot of it is down to the likes of Adama Traore and Joao Moutinho overperforming on their XG and XA, with former Lazio man Pedro Neto overperforming on his XG himself.
As for Jimenez, his XG per 90 has gone up too- from 0.41 to 0.46. Unlike last season, he has overperformed on his total XG this season. But he’s also taken more shots on target per 90 than he did last season. Higher input will certainly lead to higher output.
But last season, Jimenez had scored four goals that an XG of around 0.20. This season, that number is at only two. While that isn’t a manner of jumping onto a conclusion because Jimenez has been more efficient with shots worth an XG of around 0.30 this season.
Last season, he didn’t have as many big chances to score as he’s had this season. That does come from how the players around him have become better in servicing him. He’s had more penalties this season than last season- another reminder that him scoring more goals is down to being given more chances to score.
But having said that, Jimenez has certainly improved as a footballer. Not just because his XA per 90 has come from 0.20 to 0.27 this season. Per Understat, Jimenez’s XG Build per 90 has gone up this season. It has gone from 0.12 to 0.16. That is key to explaining this improvement.
He’s been getting on the ball more than he did last season and that has brought the best out of his abilities. While his passing percentage is still around 73 like it was last season, there has been a variety about the way he passes the ball. The number of long-balls he plays has gone up to 1.2 from 0.9 last season. And it has contributed to the team, leading to higher output for Jimenez and his creation numbers.
The judgment that he’s a complete striker is a very valid one. And it becomes evident whenever he plays. Jimenez isn’t afraid to take defenders on and beat them. He likes to play others in instead of scoring all the time himself.
But having said that, it is tough to confidently say for anyone that his finishing has gone up a level, even though the goals have increased. But at the age of 28, he’s matured as a player in ways more than just goalscoring. And if that’s helping Nuno’s side, they have nothing to complain. Either way, Jimenez is a very capable goalscorer on his day.