In the course of this upcoming week, the future of Raul Jimenez is set to finally be decided after a saga that has ebbed and flowed all summer. In all probability, the 23-year-old will sign on the dotted line for La Liga champion Atletico Madrid in coming days.
There are two main reasons that Jimenez is likey bound for Madrid.
First, America’s sporting director Ricardo Pelaez has acknowledged the offer from Atleti is “good.” He is known for being forthright with the press and said less than a week ago that Porto’s offer was nowhere near acceptable. Pelaez has maintained that Jimenez would be allowed to leave if a club matched America’s valuation, as was the case with Diego Reyes.
Second, Jimenez has stuck to his line about Europe being his dream. After Saturday’s 2-0 win against Tigres, he spoke about the Atletico Madrid offer: “Opportunities come once in a lifetime, the train comes by once and you have to get on it.”
At last, there appears to be an agreement after a summer in which Jimenez seemed to be itching to leave and America appeared to be holding a move up due to its high demands, which it is perfectly entitled to do with a player under contract.
If Jimenez does move to Atleti, it’d be an ideal situation for all parties involved.
The player would have a battle on to earn a starting spot, but it is far from inconceivable that he could win one in his first season under Diego Simeone’s 4-4-2 system.
Diego Costa and David Villa left the club this summer, but the additions of Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann — known mainly as a winger — have partly filled the hole along with current stand-in striker Raul Garcia.
Although Atletico is one of the planet’s top sides, the door to a starting spot for Jimenez — who, remember, is not yet an automatic Mexico national team starter — is relatively open.MORE: Biggest summer transfers | Soccer's beautiful fans | WAGs
And — as if it needs repeating — Argentine Simeone is one of the most talented young coaches in Europe, who has consistently got the best out of his players since taking over in late 2011. Atleti beating the star-studded squads of Real Madrid and Barcelona to the league title last season will go down as an historic achievement in Spanish soccer and the side is unlikely to be far off the pace this coming season, meaning Jimenez would be in the hunt for trophies.
From America’s point of view, the deal would recuperate the expense shed out on Jimenez’s replacement Oribe Peralta — as well as a significant amount extra if the reported 10 million to 15 million euro fee is to be believed.
Aside from the money, America's reputation as a club that develops players — not traditionally its strong point — would be boosted, following Reyes’ move to Porto last summer.
For Atleti, Jimenez represents a calculated risk that comes at a fraction of the 40 million-euro price Porto’s 27-year-old Jackson Martinez was purported to cost.
“The boy plays well and is physically strong,” said Simeone after America’s 0-0 draw with Atleti this month. “I think he’s got a good future.”
The final winner would be Mexican soccer in general, with Jimenez on the brink of becoming one of only a few Mexicans ever — Hugo Sanchez, Rafa Marquez, Javier Hernandez, Luis Garcia — to play at what you could genuinely call elite-level European teams.