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Aug 29, 2014

Jimenez's path his own at Atletico

Raul Jimenez's Atletico Madrid career began with a Spanish Super Cup triumph and a start in Monday's league opener.
Raul Jimenez's Atletico Madrid career began with a Spanish Super Cup triumph and a start in Monday's league opener.

Hugo Sanchez and Luis Garcia will forever be good examples for Mexican players to follow, but in this particular case, and since a team like Atletico de Madrid is involved, more famous names could be uttered: Diego Forlan, Radamel Falcao or perhaps Diego Costa.

At any rate, I would be content if Raul Jimenez accomplished just a small percentage of the great technical capacity of Sanchez and a large measure of the great human qualities and professionalism of Garcia.

Although the comparison seems pointless -- it was not I, but rather the president of Atletico itself, Enrique Cerezo, who first made it -- the exportation of Jimenez must be classified and analyzed as one of the most significant in the history of modern Mexican soccer.

- Report: Jimenez not feeling any pressure
- Hernandez: Jimenez gets first Atletico start

Arriving in Spain at 23 years old, and by way of the champion of one of the most prestigious leagues in the world of soccer no less, is already a résumé not to be scoffed at. Add to that his physical and technical characteristics, and a meteoric career in which in less than two years he took his place as one of the best players in his position in Mexico. And finally, we can't forget that he is a forward who scores goals, and that puts him on display in a unique way.

Jimenez grew by leaps and bounds, as did his expectations of triumph in a new level of soccer such as the one that lies ahead of him.

Comparing him to Sanchez is impossible. What Sanchez did in Spain's soccer would be very difficult for any player to emulate. Comparing him with Garcia also has its problems because Garcia had his own and marked characteristics. The two of them, both Sanchez and Garcia, were backed by the momentum of a solid career in Mexican soccer, unlike Jimenez who, like a good omen, has already far outstripped them in the process of exportation.

Jimenez has to find his own path. Atletico de Madrid is a team of lofty aspirations, and is also in its heyday, its "golden age." It will be crucial that he continue, while showing his prowess, to learn and mature as a player. I would not keep insisting on comparing him with Sanchez or Garcia, because we are dealing here with Atletico, a launching point for great European careers for Latin American players. I would show him the path travelled more recently by Forlan, Falcao and Costa. Triumph on Atletico means being given the "keys to a soccer kingdom" and cements a promising future.

Raul Jimenez is where any player at his age and with similar circumstances dreams of being. It could be the beginning of a great story. It depends on him and him alone.

David Faitelson

David Faitelson is one of Mexico's most popular sports journalists, having worked for TV Azteca before joining ESPN. He is based in Los Angeles and co-hosts "Nacion ESPN," ESPN Deportes' version of "SportsNation." Follow him on Twitter @Faitelson_ESPN.

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