Santiago Gimenez's long-winded hat-trick against Ajax saw the Mexican write his name into the history books. Feyenoord raced into a 3-0 lead in Amsterdam on Sunday, but the match was abandoned early in the second half owing to fan trouble. On Wednesday afternoon, Ajax and Feyenoord played out the rest of the fixture with the defending champions eventually securing a 4-0 win with Gimenez bagging Feyenoord's fourth on the hour mark. It was a hat-trick three days in the making.
In the process, though, the 22-year-old became the first Feyenoord player ever to score a hat-trick in an Eredivisie away game at Ajax. Arne Slot's side haven't made a great start in their title defence, and currently sit four points off top spot, but having drawn their opening two games, De club aan de Maas are starting to find their rhythm.
Their resounding victory over Ajax extended their winning league run to four games. In that time, Feyenoord have netted a whopping 21 league goals. After just six matches, there is a fair spread of goalscorers for Slot's men, with no fewer than 11 players hitting the back of the net in 2023/24, but it's Gimenez who is spearheading their charge for domestic glory.
🎩 Santiago Giménez scored a hattrick in De Klassieker in the 4-0 victory for Feyenoord— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) September 27, 2023
🤯 His 3rd goal went in a total of 71 hours and 16 minutes after his first pic.twitter.com/XWOGrDwngj
The young Mexico international was Feyenoord's top scorer in their title winning campaign with 15 league goals, albeit having played a bit part role, starting just 21 of 34 league matches. Gimenez will undoubtedly eclipse that record having already scored more goals (9) than any other player in the Dutch top tier this term. No wonder interest in Gimenez is really starting to soar.
London trio Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all been keeping tabs on Gimenez, with the latter supposedly monitoring the goal machine since the summer when Slot was linked with the vacant Spurs job. The Premier League sides will face increased competition from teams across the continent, with the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Benfica, Napoli, Inter, AC Milan and Juventus among those keeping tabs on the former Cruz Azul hitman.
As with any goal-getting hitman, Gimenez is one who comes alive in the box. He won't hold up the ball for teammates, nor will he seek to help bring others into play, but if you create the goalscoring opportunities for Gimenez, he'll likely punish opponents. Indeed, he has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength 'finishing' and for good reason. Of the 29 players to have mustered 10 or more shots, only two have a better conversion rate than Gimenez (36%), while of his nine goals; eight have been deemed clear-cut chances.
In addition, Gimenez has managed more touches in the opposition box (46) than any other player in the Eredivisie this season, with 24.5% of his overall touches coming in the penalty area. What's more, 20 of his 25 shots have been from inside the 18-yard box. His style of play is eerily similar to that of compatriot and former Manchester United forward Chicharito. The now LA Galaxy forward would not get involved in the build up play, but as soon as his offensive support would encroach up the final third, Chicharito would spring into life.
While he had few touches of the ball, Chicharito maximised his clever movement to time his run to perfection to put the ball in the back of the net. Why take many touches when you often only need one to score? The movement in front of goal is undoubtedly the pair's best weapon in their Arsenal.
A prime example of Gimenez's similar approach was his first against Ajax, where he made a superb run into the box and this was picked out brilliantly by Quinten Timber. Gimenez then finished excellently past Jay Gorter, who was rooted to the spot. There are moments where the Feyenoord forward will receive the ball outside of the box, and his footwork isn't quite up to standard, but for the most part; he is on the pitch to put the ball in the back of the net, and he does this very well.
The issue will be whether he can transfer his goalscoring capabilities to one of Europe's bigger leagues. So often we have seen a striker tear up the Eredivisie only to fluff their lines elsewhere. Vincent Janssen and Afonso Alves are two who consistently hit the back of the net in the Netherlands, only to struggle in the Premier League. That said, Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie and Ruud van Nistelrooy are three examples of prolific strikers in the Netherlands and successfully transferred their form to English football.
After a solid debut campaign in Europe, Gimenez and Feyenoord are really benefiting from the former's second season in the Eredivisie to really get to grips with the demands of being a first choice frontman for a title chasing side. His reputation is soaring and that will mean an inflating price tag, which will certainly appeal to Feyenoord once the time comes to cash in on Gimenez.
For now, he'll continue to do what he does best - put the ball in the back of the net. It won't be long before a big money move materialises as he continues to tuck chances away with ease.