At any level of football, from the Champions League right down to the North West Counties, players who score goals come at a big premium. It’s not always the sexiest job in the game, but it’s certainly the most difficult.
You don’t have to be Erling Haaland or Ronaldo to be considered a top striker. If you’re capable of combining a hold-up play clinic with a consistent eye for goal at Powerleague on a Wednesday night, you’re a hot commodity.
Not all goals are beautiful, but scoring them in the first place is an art form in itself – and the prices you pay for a clinical striker serve as a sound enough reminder of that fact.
Be it sorting out Graham who bagged a brace with his first two pints on the house on a Sunday afternoon, agreeing to waive the subs fee for the fill-in who carried you to victory at five-a-side, or paying hundreds of thousands of pounds a week for a world-class prospect to fire you towards domestic and continental glory, strikers are all one brotherhood.
That ends when you put hungover Graham on a Sunday up top for a club in one of Europe’s top five leagues, but put Santiago Gimenez down the middle on a brisk Sunday morning on a pitch filled with dog muck, and we reckon he’s still taking everyone there for a ride as he bags at least 10 times in an hour.
Gimenez has very quickly established himself as perhaps the most attractive centre-forward prospect in world football right now, if not the most prolific.
Born in Buenos Aries, Argentina, the 22-year-old moved to Mexico at age three with father Christian being transferred to Primera Division outfit Veracruz.
A second-generation talent, Santiago quickly began on his own journey and found himself in the Cruz Azul academy setup before long, while also representing Mexico at youth level.
There’s only so long a talent with such striking physicality and natural IQ around the goalmouth can go unnoticed. Europe came knocking in the form of Feyenoord in 2022 after he’d found his feet in the Cruz Azul first team, and the fearless goal getting freak that he is, he grasped the opportunity with both hands.
You can probably guess why we’re talking about him, then. Gimenez likes goals. He likes lots of goals. And he’s pretty damn good at scoring them.
So good, in fact, that he’s recently blitzed an Eredivisie record set by none other than Luis Suarez for goals in a calendar year, scoring his 31st league goal of 2023 against Volendam and etching his name into the history books in doing so.
That is the latest in a string of accomplishments, including firing Feyenoord to the Eredivisie crown in his first season at the club with 18 goals and three assists.
The opportunity to move to a European behemoth quickly followed, but determined to prove he wasn’t just a flash in the pan, the Mexico international stayed put and now has Europe’s biggest sides falling over one another to try and secure his services.
Remember our chat earlier about strikers commanding a premium? We think Gimenez might just be one of those who commands an unfathomable one.
There’s a beauty to his style of play that just feels so natural and ingrained. The 22-year-old has been possessed by striker powers and can’t help but know exactly how to move his body and position himself to rifle a ball into the back of the net.
A born poacher, it’s no wonder why the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona have all been strongly linked. We fully expect him to better his already frightening rate of 43 goals from 64 Feyenoord games come the end of the season – if they keep hold of him past January, of course.
Simply put, the man is a freak of nature and the perfect genre of striker – a big clunky beast who will stop at nothing to bundle the ball into the onion sack.
The next step is of course taking that potential and bringing it to Europe’s main event, but it’s hard to see a world where he doesn’t.
By Mitch Wilks