What happened to Raul Jimenez?

Two months after his superstar arrival in Madrid, the Raul Jimenez effect has slowly fizzled out at Vicente Calderon and few are asking for more…
What happened to Raul Jimenez?

Raul Jimenez of Club Atletico de Madrid heads the ball during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Sevilla FC at Vicente Calderon Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Two months after his superstar arrival in Madrid, the Raul Jimenez effect has slowly fizzled out at Vicente Calderon and few are asking for more opportunities for the Mexican striker.

It may seem unfair, as the adaptation period from the Liga MX to La Liga is always bound to be tough and steep, and Jimenez is just a 23-year-old with limited experience at the top-level, but after paying 10 million euros for him, and being introduced as the long-term option to replace a striker of Diego Costa’s caliber at Atletico Madrid, we can understand how his failure to perform right away has made everyone antsy in the club.

Diego Simeone was the first one to try to shield the kid from the external pressure.

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After not scoring in the first three weeks of La Liga, “el Cholo” asked himself rhetorically, in a press conference, if everyone would be as patient with Raul as he was planning to be.

The message was clear: Jimenez was a long-term bet for the club, and he was prepared to safeguard him from the attacks of press and critics if goals didn’t come raining in.

And they didn’t. After almost three months of competition, Raul Jimenez has become one of the signings of the team deemed as “underperforming”, alongside the Italian attacker Cerci and goalkeeper Jan Oblak. The Mexican striker has only netted one goal since his arrival, and although Simeone has given him enough leeway in the starting lineup, he has not managed to embrace the opportunity and make the best of it.

So much so, that it seems even Simeone has lost a bit of faith in him. Raul Jimenez has not been present in the last five games the team has played, moving from a starter in the first few weeks of the championship to a clear outcast in the squad.

Surely this situation has Jimenez quite worried, as he has said many times the most important thing he needed in his new team was confidence. Obviously having little to none of that currently, the Mexican will need to redefine himself if he aims to stay relevant at Atletico Madrid.

The implications of his current situation, however, go beyond the repercussion his performances may have in Madrid.

Cholo Simeone seems to have found the right balance in his attack with Mandzukic playing upfront, Griezmann exploding in the spaces and Raul Garcia balancing his double-edged sword as a feared attacker and a poised midfielder. There’s no space right now in Atletico Madrid for Jimenez, and the striker can only hope to get some of the scraps of playing time left over by Mandzukic. Of course, this is worrisome for Miguel Herrera and the coaching staff at el Tri.

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Herrera has been the biggest proponent of Jimenez’s career, as he gave him the chance to shine at America and pushed him to his best performances, including him in the World Cup squad that traveled to Brazil.

But with his move to Europe, and the lack of opportunities the youngster is facing, management at el Tri are hoping this is just a temporary phase that Jimenez can quickly overcome in order to become an active member of the Mexican national team again.

Although Carlos Vela has taken some of the pressure away from the attacking woes of the team, Herrera knows Jimenez is a more than safe bet for the future, and he will be hoping for the former America starlet to make a name for himself at Vicente Calderon as soon as possible in order to keep making an impact with Mexico.