How a Mexican star helped PSV Eindhoven to the Dutch title
PSV Eindhoven secured their third Eredivisie title in four years on Sunday afternoon thanks to a 3-0 win over nearest rivals Ajax of Amsterdam. Goals from Gaston Pereira, Luuk de Jong, and Steven Bergwijn secured the title. Even so, the key player for PSV this season has been Mexican winger Hirving Lozano.
Lozano has scored 15 league goals and set up eight for the Rood-witten, who secured the title with three games to spare. The 22-year-old arrived at the club with a reputation as a right-footed player who preferred to play on the left, an inverted winger who likes to cut inside. That said, he has played as many games on the right wing for PSV this season and occasionally in the middle, demonstrating he can slot in comfortably anywhere across the attacking line.
Lozano was born in Mexico City in 1995. Like many young Mexicans, he took a keen interest in football. He showed promise and Pachuca signed him in 2009. Pachuca is a small city 90 kilometres north of Mexico City. It wasn't the easiest of moves, leaving home, but Lozano settled in well. He soon earned the nickname Chucky for his penchant for frightening teammates on road trips.
Lozano progressed well. He made his first-team debut in February 2014, scoring the winner against Club America. Chucky soon became a regular, helping Pachuca to finish runner-up in that season's Clausura. Liga MX is divided into two mini-seasons in which teams go through the league once in the Apertura (opening season), then play the corresponding fixtures in the Clausura (closing season).
Two years later, Lozano and Pachuca won the Clausura. He was named in the tournament's Best XI and Best Offensive Midfielder.
More success followed in 2017 when Lozano earned the Golden Boot and was named Young Player of the Tournament when Pachuca won the CONCACAF Champions League. Still in his early 20's Lozano had pretty much won everything he could in Mexico. It was time to move to Europe. Clubs in England, Spain, and Germany were linked but he signed with PSV for £7.2 million. In the end, his decision to follow the same path so many from the Americas have taken successfully has been justified. He is starring in a title-winning team.
Lozano's first international call-up came in 2015. He competed with the U20s in the CONCACAF Championship. Mexico won the tournament. Lozano won a share of the Golden Boot and was named in the Best XI. Later that year, he moved to the U23s for the Olympic qualifiers. Once again, Mexico came out on top. He won the Golden Ball and a now customary place in the Best XI.
Lozano played in the Olympics for Mexico but disappointed. They were eliminated in the group stages with Lozano sent off in one game. However, a few months before the Olympics he had been called up to the senior team, making his full debut in February 2016. Since then he has gone on to become a regular fixture for El Tri. He already has 25 caps and seven international goals to his name.
Lozano will no doubt be the subject of interest this summer. His league form has drawn attention. A strong World Cup will only further enhance his reputation and value. An intelligent shopper may look to make a move before the World Cup but PSV naturally would like to hold onto him for a while. It will take a huge bid to pry loose their star player. There are clubs with the money, though, and Lozano has the talent. Stay tuned.