The other Raúl in Madrid
I'm sure the reporters in Spain will start off calling him by his last name. And then, if the goals start rolling in, if the class appears, if he generates results, only then will they speak of a "Raúl," of the other "Raul" that can score goals in Madrid.
Some years after Jorge Vergara surprised Mexican soccer by "delivering" Javier "El Chicharito" Hernández into the highest strata of the world of European soccer, América has finalized, on Wednesday, the most expensive trade in history for a Mexican team and Mexican player: more than $14 million from Atletico Madrid for Raúl Jiménez.
All the signs point to the "birth of a new soccer star." He is 23 years old; 6-foot-2 and has played his entire career for América, debuting for their first team in 2011. Barely one year later, he formed part of the Mexican national team that took gold at the Olympic Games in London. Since then, his career has been meteoric. In the Liga MX Apertura he scored five goals in his first two games. He has played a total of 81 matches with América, with 31 goals and 15 assists. Jiménez will be the third Mexican to land at Atlético de Madrid, after Hugo Sánchez and Luis García.
But Jiménez could be an authentic "miracle" of América's soccer program. Finding an identity as a Mexican forward as part of América is not easy. For years the team from Coapa has been known for contracting foreign players to fill key scoring positions. When it does not follow that formula, it calls Torreón (Christian Benítez, Oribe Peralta) and gets out its checkbook.
The past three coaches of América must be given credit for this exportation of Jiménez to Atlético de Madrid: Alfredo Tena, who's in his last and ill-fated days with América worked with him as part of the junior team; Miguel Herrera, because in his time he promoted his career despite pressure from foreign players for the same position; and Antonio Mohamed, because he spoke to Atletico boss Diego Simeone personally to recommend him.
With a view to the season in which they will try to defend their Spanish title, Atlético Madrid has hired two forwards to fill in for Adrián and Diego Costa. Mario Mandzukic, a Croatian coming from Bayern Munich, and Antoine Griezmann, a Frenchman coming from Real Sociedad. Atlético has sent Leo Baptistao, a young Brazilian, to Rayo Vallecano to make more space for the Mexican forward. The fact is that Jiménez will have come to learn, continue to develop and grow as a player. It all starts when Atlético play on Tuesday in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid.
Entering Europe through the gate of the champion of Spain, and doing so in a team full of tradition such as Atlético and in a city like Madrid, must be a dream come true for Raúl Jiménez, Raúl, the "other Raúl," the Mexican player involved in the most expensive Mexican soccer trade in history.
David Faitelson is based in Los Angeles and co-hosts "Nacion ESPN," ESPN Deportes' version of "SportsNation." Follow him on Twitter @Faitelson_ESPN.