Football

Mexico star Jiminez told World Cup is not as important as club by Wolves boss Lopetegui

Raul Jimenez, who is included in Mexico’s World Cup squad despite a lengthy injury layoff, was scolded by his new Wolves manager about his priorities.

  • Jimenez out since August with groin injury
  • On bench for recent Mexico friendly
  • Lopetegui questions player’s priorities

WHAT HAPPENED? Julen Lopetegui is not thrilled that his star forward is going to Qatar as part of Mexico’s 26-man squad, suggesting the potential World Cup trip is a fitness risk that could hurt Wolves in the long run. But his comments are controversial given the passion Jimenez has for his national team and the rare opportunity to represent his country on the biggest stage.

WHAT THEY SAID: “I have spoken to Raul about Mexico and I am worried about him,” said Lopetegui, who was recently hired by Wolves after being sacked by Sevilla. “He hasn’t played for Wolves for a long time. We need him at his best and I hope he will come back in this way. The most important thing is not the World Cup. It’s Wolves.

“We have to defend our aims. I have respect for his situation and for Mexico but my focus is Wolves.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Lopetegui was officially appointed as Wolves’ manager on November 5, meaning he’s not had much time to build a relationship with Jimenez or the rest of the squad. His comments risk causing dressing room backlash at an early stage in his tenure.

IN TWO PHOTOS:

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WHAT NEXT FOR JIMENEZ? Mexico announced their final 26-man World Cup squad on Monday and included Jimenez among their four forwards. He will be a candidate to start in their opener against Poland on November 22.

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