Nearly every Mexican footballer has a nickname, given to them in childhood that sticks throughout life. The next player to jump from Liga MX to Europe is no exception.
Legend has it that as a youth player Hirving Lozano took joy in hiding under the bed on road trips then jumping out and scaring his teammates. And so, despite his lack of carrot-orange hair or facial scars, Lozano became "El Chucky" after the doll in horror movies.
Not long after first earning the moniker, Lozano started spending more time frightening opponents than terrorizing teammates. It took him just five minutes to score his first goal after making his professional debut at age 18, eventually earning a spot and helping Pachuca to a runner-up finish in the regular season.
He'd later take Tuzos to much greater heights, leading them to the Liga MX title in the Clausura 2016 and scoring eight goals in as many matches to key the club's CONCACAF Champions League title. As Pachuca was celebrating its title, some speculated this December's Club World Cup would delay his move across the Atlantic — one that has seemed a certainty rather than a possibility since interest emerged in 2015 and ramped up as Jose Mourinho reportedly wanted the winger to come to Manchester United.
It then appeared that it was the other side of Manchester where Lozano would have ended up, with Man City reportedly set to sign the young Mexican followed by a loan to PSV for two years before he would join up with Pep Guardiola. But any move to the Premier League has now been delayed, as PSV found a way to get their man without Man City signing him first.
Lozano on Monday agreed to a six-year deal with PSV, which spent all of 2017 chasing the Mexican.
"I'm glad it finally succeeded," PSV sporting director Marcel Brands said in a statement. "We spent more than six months working on this transfer and some creativity was needed to eventually get the transfer through."
The right-footed Lozano has become one of the Americas' best left wingers, earning more than a dozen caps since making his El Tri debut last year. His speed and skill on the ball will be on display at the Confederations Cup, where he'll return to meet El Tri ahead of Wednesday's match against New Zealand.
Lozano often cuts inside and has a shot or can get to the line and put in a cross to a teammate. The Eredivisie is a perfect landing spot for Lozano, who has struggled with more physical defenders and missed several weeks because of injury in each of the last two tournaments. Pachuca coach Diego Alonso often pointed out that Lozano was easily the most fouled player in Mexico while referees seem reluctant to send off right backs who resort to chopping down the 21-year-old instead of risking him getting past.
"Hirving is a different kind of player, he's a player with great individual quality who makes a lot of difference on the field," Pachuca's elder statesman goalkeeper Oscar "Conejo" Perez said earlier this summer. "Hopefully he's able to sort things out the best way possible and be able to stay happy and keep developing and becoming known. I really value him and wish him the best and all the success in the world."
His scoring pace slowed this past season as Pachuca struggled to balance both a CCL campaign and a league tournament without playmaker Rodolfo Pizarro, who left for Chivas during the offseason. Without a No. 10 to play with Lozano, teams were able to key in on him, he wasn't as effective as he's been in the past. Lozano also ran out of steam in 2016 when Mexico pinned much of his Olympic hopes on his attacking skills but also used him in the Copa America Centenario. Lozano wasn't nearly as dangerous after nearly an entire year straight of competitive football, but quickly snapped back into form to help Pachuca top the league in goals in the short tournament that followed.
Despite near-constant speculation around his future, Lozano remained calm. He recently welcomed his second child into the world and speaks often about valuing his family and being a good father.
s"His strength is that he is a very low-key, low profile, very down to earth [person] and I think will go very far," Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said after Lozano's debut goal. "Not only is he a very good player with the potential to be an outstanding player, he is also a very good human being."
This levelheadedness combined with the speed, agility and shooting strengths Lozano possess explain why so many teams in Europe wanted to bring in "El Chucky." Now his future is set with PSV. If the Dutch club can help Lozano continue his growth, he'll be scaring defenders on the old continent for years to come.