World Cup 2018: Why Hirving Lozano is ready to star at a big club
Heading into the World Cup, hardcore football fans would have been aware of gutsy young Mexican winger Hirving Lozano, but he was a relative unknown just a year ago, having spent his formative years at boyhood club Pachuca, making 120 league appearances for 31 goals.
A move to Dutch club PSV Eindhoven last summer thrust the speedy forward into the spotlight and he didn’t disappoint. While some Central and South American players can struggle to adapt to European football, Lozano took to his new surroundings with consummate ease, enjoying a breathtaking season, in which he scored 17 leagues goals and made eight more in just 29 games.
Even after such a fantastic season, questions were still being asked of the young winger. Was he a flash in the pan? Would he be able to emulate those same levels of play in more competitive matches? Could he do it at the top level?
Then came June 17. Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow. Germany versus Mexico. The World Champions against the plucky underdogs, who always seem to struggle when the going gets tough.
It was expected to be a walk in the park for the ruthless force of Die Mannschaft, but millions of fans watching all around the world were about to see that these fearless Mexicans had come to play.
Pre-match talk had suggested that Lozano might have an impact on the game, but doubts persisted about his ability to perform his usual tricks and runs against such top class opposition. He pushed those doubts aside time and time again, carving his way into the box with ease, an almost playful look on his face as he bounced from side to side, bamboozling defenders with quick feet and smart play.
His brilliant performance was capped off by a goal that had been coming, with a perfectly-timed run and a sweet cutback onto his right foot ending in an unstoppable strike, and Lozano was rightly awarded the Man of the Match award. He didn't just compete with the best team in international football, he ran rings around them.
It won’t stop there. Lozano is going to get even better. Not only does he have all of the pace, trickery, and talent he needs to make it to the top, he also proved against Germany that he has the mental game to cope in high pressure situations. This was his World Cup debut, and he made it look like a kick-about with his friends in the local park.
Yes, it was only one game, but Lozano had just come off the back of a fantastic domestic season. He’s been consistently brilliant for a long time now, and he could improve almost any big club in a top European championship with his remarkable confidence, work rate, willingness to make life difficult for defenders, and superb individual skill.
There are some players who are quite clearly destined for greatness. You don't need to watch them 100 times to know that these young stars have what it takes to go the distance, and Lozano is one of those players.
He has absolutely everything he needs to succeed at the highest level of football and whichever club manages to snap him up will be doing themselves an incredible bit of business. He’ll command a high price, especially after his World Cup heroics, but it’s clear to see that he’ll be worth every penny.