Manchester United’s search for a striker could end up leading back to Wolves’ Raul Jimenez.
Jimenez was first reported to be a target for United ahead of the FA Cup game with Wolves in early Janaury, by Goal. Transfer reports have spiralled since.
It’s now March, and Jimenez continues to be linked with a move to United.
This is the point where we say, ‘OK, is there anything actually in this, and would it be the right transfer for the club?’.
What’s the latest?
Jimenez was asked about the speculation by ESPN Mexico this week. He didn’t exactly shoot it down. He said: “One is always open to everything, but I have a contract until 2023.”
The striker has scored 22 goals in all competitions this season including a winner against Tottenham at the weekend.
He has played a key role in Wolves reaching the last 16 of the Europa League, and now they are up to sixth in the Premier League.
What are the key questions?
There are two big drawbacks to a potential move to bring Jimenez to Old Trafford.
The first would be that we would have to overpay. Wolves are under no financial pressure and are looking like a really good, well run side.
If Jimenez wants a move, it’s possible, but there will be a premium to pay to sign him from a league rival, as we saw with Harry Maguire last summer.
Potentially, this won’t matter too much if Jimenez is a big success, but a heft price tag, around £40-50 million would put him under a lot of pressure.
The second drawback is his age, which factors into his price.
He turns 29 in May and as we saw with Robin van Persie who joined at the same age, there was a sharp drop off after his first season. With Alexis Sanchez, the drop off came even sooner.
That isn’t to say United should never sign a striker close to his 30s for big money again, but it is not a long-term investment.
In paying big for Jimenez, United are also passing up on signing a striker who is 21-25 years-old who could be a contributor for a minimum of five years, rather than a maximum of three.
Any other factors?
It won’t be lost on Ed Woodward that signing Mexico’s top striker could be a good move for commercial reasons.
United have a lot of fans in the country, many dating back to Chicarito’s spell at Old Trafford, and a deal could be very profitable off the pitch.
There is also the on-pitch battle with Wolves which may determine Jimenez’s future.
Wolves are level on points with United in the Premier League, and we could meet in the Europa League quarter-finals or beyond.
In the event Wolves come out on top in either competition over us, it is more likely Jimenez would be minded to stay, rather than switch.
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