Hirving Lozano is now the biggest star on the Mexico national team, and is set to be the first Mexican megastar in Europe since Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
The moment in which he surpassed the former Manchester United forward happened during the first match of the World Cup, El Tri's win over Germany that was as stunning because of how it happened as that it happened at all. The goal, which he scored after cutting from his left foot to his right and beating Manuel Neuer with a shot, started off a round of a song that never stopped sounding in Russia. "El Chucky Lozano," sung to the tune of "Seven Nation Army." Back home, the celebrations were so wild it tripped earthquake monitors.
When Mexicans complained last month that their new 500 peso bill would feature the face of former president Benito Juarez, who already is on the 20, one social media user suggested, "How about Hirving Lozano? He's earned it."
It's normal, then, that fans who are ready to put the 23-year-old on currency are dreaming of a big-time transfer for Lozano, to see the country's biggest hero go to a club that is easy to watch every weekend. In La Liga-obsessed Mexico, his father's suggestion that he'd had discussions with big clubs led to reports that it was Barcelona interested in signing him. Lozano had named the Spanish giants as a dream team to join, as he'd love to play alongside Lionel Messi.
The rumors only will pick up with the news conferences ahead of the clash. "It would be a dream to come to Barcelona," Lozano said Monday, saying his agent had told him that Barca had interest. And with Barcelona manager Enrique Valverde calling Lozano "an interesting player" the interest looks to go both ways.
"Lozano has had a great World Cup and he's doing really well," Valverde said later in his news conference. "But you have to be respectful with players and the clubs they belong to."
Yet with PSV facing Barcelona on Tuesday before moving on to group matches against Inter and Tottenham, it's clear Lozano is better off staying one more year in the Netherlands before making a move to one of the largest clubs in the world.
Lozano is tearing things up with PSV, and it might not seem like he has more to learn before he goes to a larger league. His speed is nearly unmatched, his calm and movement in the box impeccable and even his pressing often helps his team win the ball back and start another attack - one that often goes through him like the one he finished off in the 62nd minute of PSV's last Champions League match.
He had a double this weekend against ADO Den Haag, bursting into the box to pick off a pass from a center back and open the scoring, then getting onto the end of a ball over the top from new club teammate Erick Gutierrez, a fellow Mexico international he has known since their time in the Pachuca academy.
There are still things Lozano can get better at, though. Dealing with the physicality of a league like the Premier League or to some extent La Liga will push him.
While he's a player who is used to getting chopped down (he was the most fouled player in Liga MX several tournaments running), he hasn't always reacted well. Lozano needs to continue to both work harder on avoiding defenders who are coming in to foul him and to keep his cool when he is a victim. He also has to keep building range to become even more dangerous from outside the box. His set piece off the bar in the match against BATE Borisov that put PSV into the next phase is an encouraging sign that he's beginning to be even more of a long-rang threat.
Lozano wouldn't sink at a big club, but PSV is a good situation for him. It's a place where he can keep honing his game and is nearly guaranteed minutes - now not only in the Dutch league but in the Champions League.
The offseason managerial change may have been reason to look for greener pastures, but Mark van Bommel has continued on with the flowing, attacking style Phillip Cocu used to win the league last season. Luuk de Jong and Gaston Pereiro provide great partners for Lozano to work with. Newly signed left back Angelino is a defender who loves to get forward and already has been a joy for Lozano to play with early in the season. He's also got "Guti" to work with on PSV's left side and to hang out with off the field.
Lozano has become such a significant player at PSV that they may not accept anything but the most astronomical offer anyway. "It could very well happen that we receive a huge offer, but we are in a position where we can afford to say no," Van Bommel told Fox Sports NL just before the summer window closed. One more year of waiting won't do anything to derail Lozano's career. His trajectory is pointed firmly upward, and he can now focus on the finer points of his game while looking to help bring more trophies to Eindhoven.
If the start of the year and the consistent rumors are any indications, big clubs will call again with even better offers. That will delight his legion of fans back home in Mexico, but they'll still be tuning in to see everything he does this season in the Netherlands and singing his name when he's suiting up for El Tri.