Leading forwards are worth their weight in gold to sides looking to challenge for major honours, which may just be why Wolves’ Raul Jimenez has been continually linked with Europe’s biggest clubs in recent months.
The Mexican international has played the best football of his career since moving to Molineux two years ago and has enjoyed a superb 2019/20 campaign, scoring 27 goals in all competitions to fire Wolves to a seventh-placed finish and the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Jimenez’s fine goalscoring record since moving to English football has made him a target for several sides seeking a new number nine, and we’ve decided to look at who the bookmakers rank as the favourites for his signature.
So for those of you who enjoy sports betting, here are the five favourites to sign Raul Jimenez:
Barcelona – 25/1
Barcelona’s humiliating Champions League exit to Bayern Munich has sparked talk of wholesale changes at the Camp Nou, with widespread reports suggesting that just four players are safe from what could prove to be a fire-sale in Catalonia.
Their 8-2 humbling by the German giants – Barcelona’s worst defeat for 80 years – has to lead to club legend Ronald Koeman replacing Quique Setien as manager and it remains to be seen how the Dutchman attempts to overhaul an ageing squad.
Signing a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez has been high amongst Barcelona’s priorities and the club will hope to arrest a woeful record in the transfer market in the coming windows – and the signing of Jimenez could prove a sensible acquisition.
Jimenez has flourished since an underwhelming and fleeting spell at Atletico Madrid and would return to Spain an improved all-round player, a reliable goalscoring presence with a selfless style which could bring the best from Barcelona’s attacking options.
Jimenez would represent a largely short-term option having turned 29 in May, however, with a marquee and big-money pursuit of Inter’s Lautaro Martinez or Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar more likely for the Barcelona hierarchy.
Real Madrid – 20/1
Jimenez has spoken previously of the lure of Spain’s big two clubs and Real Madrid are ranked at slightly shorter odds than old rivals Barcelona for his signature, Zinedine Zidane’s side another in need of a refresh despite winning La Liga this season.
An expensive window of recruitment delivered mixed results for Real last summer, with the signings of Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic having failed to reduce the goalscoring burden on the experienced Karim Benzema.
Whilst hopes are high that Hazard can bounce back following an injury-hit first season in Spain, there are doubts over Jovic’s ability to cement a first-team place following a season of struggle for the 22-year-old in Madrid.
The €60m signing scored just two league goals last season and the arrival of Jimenez could allow the forward to potentially depart on loan, with regular starting opportunities needed if the youngster is to get his stuttering career back on track.
Manchester City – 20/1
Jimenez’s career-best football has come in the Premier League so it is little surprise to see England’s biggest clubs have taken notice of the Mexican, Manchester City ranked at 20/1 odds to be the star’s next destination.
Pep Guardiola is believed to be considering long-term options in attack with all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero having entered the final year of his contract at the Etihad, the Argentine’s future remaining uncertain despite hitting 20+ goals in all competitions for the seventh successive season.
Jimenez could offer a short-term solution to Manchester City’s attacking options should he head north, his proven track-record in the Premier League and work-rate as an attacking focal point likely to appeal to Guardiola.
The 29-year-old also supplied six assists alongside his 17 league goals last season, providing more Premier League goal contributions than both Aguero and current deputy Gabriel Jesus.
Manchester United – 5/1
The odds drop significantly as we head towards the two favourites to sign Jimenez, Manchester United having emerged as known admirers of the Mexican’s talents in recent months.
Despite a new-look forward line of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and teenager Mason Greenwood impressing over the second half of the season, there are many who feel United need both more attacking depth and a specialist number nine.
Martial has shown signs of progress in a central role this season but still possesses the tendency to drift in and out of games, and the arrival of Jimenez could provide Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side with a physical presence with which to spearhead the attack.
Solskjaer’s lack of rotation over the second half of the campaign indicated his lack of faith in United’s back-up brigade and the arrival of high-quality additions will be vital as the club prepare to return to the Champions League next season.
Juventus – 4/1
Andrea Pirlo’s arrival at Juventus is set to spark a new dawn as the club look to finally conquer Europe, their dominance domestically having failed to transfer onto the Champions League stage in recent years.
The Italian champions have reportedly registered their interest in signing Jimenez as they seek the perfect attacking foil for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, with suggestions that Aaron Ramsey could be offered to the Premier League side as a potential makeweight.
Whether the inclusion of the Welsh international can tempt Wolves into a sale is unknown, Juventus keen to use their unwanted talent in exchange deals amid the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jimenez is viewed as a player whose team-first mentality can help bring the best from the talents of Ronaldo, the latter having been signed with the hope he can inspire Juve to a first Champions League in over two decades.