It’s safe to say that Hirving “El Chucky” Lozano’s first season in Europe has been a rousing success. If nothing else, it proved that he is indeed scary good, just as his nickname implies — yes, “El Chucky” is a reference to the murderous Chucky doll from the movies, which Lozano earned by jump-scaring his teammates in youth football.
The 22-year-old arrived in the Netherlands last summer as a full fledged international star, certainly in North America, where he was already Champion of Mexico once and fresh off of winning the CONCACAF Champions League with Pachuca — it was his shot that Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán spilled into Franco Jara’s path for the winning goal — and already an integral part of the Mexican national team.
Still, it’s never easy to make the transition across the Atlantic, but all Lozano did was set new career highs in goals (19) and assists (11), directly contributing to 30 goals in 33 appearances as Marco van Ginkel’s PSV Eindhoven waltzed to another Eredivisie title.
Success in the Dutch league can be a vague and inaccurate indicator, but the exceptions and the hits are noteworthy. We could be here for a while listing all the names developed by the likes of Ajax and PSV, but we don’t have to look any farther than our own former speedy winger Arjen Robben, who, like Chucky, earned his big move abroad at PSV (although he didn’t achieve his final form until he got to Bayern Munich some years later). But Robben is just one of the names Lozano is trying to live up to: PSV also launched the (European) careers of Ruud Gullit, Romário, and Ronaldo (the original one).
Back in December, when he was already linked with Barcelona and Arsenal, he spoke calmly about such ambitions.
“We’re just starting. This is something where you have to go step by step and keep working. There’s still a lot of time before the season ends. I have to keep getting better and learning. Hopefully I can achieve something important like they did.”
-Hirving Lozano; December 2017
The winter transfer window was not the first filled with Chucky rumors — he had been linked with Manchester United all the way back in 2016 — and it won’t be the last. In fact, after signing with superagent Mino Raiola a couple weeks ago, he’s strongly expected to leave PSV this summer and make the next big jump in his career.
Right now, it’s Everton who are supposedly leading the race, thanks to their intent to poach PSV sporting director Marcel Brands as well, but surely Raiola will be more than happy to fry some bigger fish. Chelsea were tenuously linked with Brands as well not too long ago, but our link with Lozano comes from an even more tenuous place: a talkSport listicle.
Pause for palpable disappointment.
I intentionally buried the lede way, way down because this likely means that Chelsea have no actual interest, at least not yet. TalkSport were simply listing 10 players Chelsea “could” sign to bolster our misfiring attack. This was then picked up by outlets in Mexico as a transfer rumor, and that, in turn, is now making its way back to England as one, too. It’s a beautiful example of how transfer rumor nonsense is generated, except this time it’s something that actually makes me excited, which doesn’t happen too often (
Hamšík, Cavani, Pulisic exempted). So that makes it all the more palpably disappointing.
Where is Emenalo when you need him? This would be right in his wheelhouse!
But, if Chelsea are paying attention, it’s surely not too late yet. Lozano is young (will turn 23 this summer), ambitious, and is ready to be the next big thing. Needless to say he’s quick, he’s skillful, he can carry a team, he can be a team player, he’s got all the tools of a modern, creative, attacking midfielder. There is even a positive marketing angle here. Liga MX is easily the most watched league in USA & Mexico, while ‘El Tri’ have become “America’s Team” as the recent controversial yet accurate headline blasted, especially ahead of a World Cup that will not feature the US Men’s National Team.
There would be the usual questions about Chucky’s ability to handle the rough and tumble of the Premier League, but his price is about to skyrocket thanks to the aforementioned World Cup — PSV paid €8m and will collect at least five times as much — and we would really miss a trick if we did not at least make a cursory attempt for him before then.
He may be Chucky, but this time, we should want to play.