In every World Cup, there’s a long list of players who have been the ‘breakout stars’ of the tournaments. In the days before the explosion of the Champions League, players like the Brazilian Ronaldo, Paul Gascoigne and even Michael Owen have emerged from World Cup tournaments as future stars or new talents for the world to enjoy. In more recent times, when we’re more familiar with world football, James Rodríguez and Thomas Müller have become breakout stars who have emerged into the top bracket of footballers. Yet despite the footage of football around the world in seemingly every league, there’s still surprises when it comes to new stars at World Cup. In 2018, we may have one of the most exciting and young breakout stars for a long time. His name is Hirving Lozano, and you’ll definitely want to remember the name.
The young Mexican forward quickly became a sought-after starlet following his 19 goals in 32 games, as he helped guide PSV Eindhoven to the Eredivisie title. Nicknamed ‘Chucky’ for his frequent scaring and pranking of teammates at Mexican club Pachuca, the rapid forward is comfortable on either flank and clearly has the goal scoring touch. It’s always important to recognise the dangers of a wide player who can score a lot of goals, yet Lozano’s versatility makes him a nightmare to mark as you simply don’t know what he’s going to do next, let alone how to stop him.
After making his international debut for El Tri in 2016 against Senegal, Lozano has been improving ever since, grabbing an assist on his debut and scoring seven goals in 26 games so far, with an impressive performance against Belgium, where he scored a brace, making up just under half of his goal tally.
In a tough World Cup group against Sweden, South Korea and Germany, Lozano could definitely make a huge impression against Sweden and South Korea – who are realistically Mexico’s main rivals for qualification – but a good performance against the World Champions could really take the interest from the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City to the next level. After tying him down to a six-year deal, PSV stand to make a lot of money from a potential transfer, which speaks volumes of how impressive Lozano was in Mexico and now in the Netherlands, but he may well be one of the new stars we end up raving about at the end of the tournament, with the likes of Javier Hernández and Carlos Vela eager to play with the man they call ‘Chucky’.
So in years to come when the official FIFA film of the 2018 World Cup is released, amidst the stars of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé and many, many more, there’s a very high chance that we may be raving about an exciting Mexican. Lozano has had the season of his life and his mature play often causes one to forget that he’s only 22 years old and turns 23 this summer. He’s coming into his peak years and when his agent – Mino Raiola – gets ahold of him after this World Cup, he will have millions upon millions thrown upon him to be the next star of a huge club. Statistically, he’s the most talked about player at this World Cup in various states across the United States of America and that goes to show how exciting this young man is. In a world full of Pogbas, Özils, Dybalas and Neymars, the name on our lips this summer will be Hirving Lozano.
By: Tom Scholes
Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images Sport