The Dabigal Blog

Lozano still marinating but has ingredients to be star

The Mexico winger has continued his excellent run of form but could still improve with PSV before making the jump to a bigger club

 Hirving Lozano once again has delivered a stand-out performance for PSV. He scored and forced Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris into a red-card-earning tackle Wednesday as the Dutch side avoided defeat for the first time this year in the UEFA Champions League group stage with a 2-2 stalemate.

 This performance, as has anything Lozano has done from scoring goals to eating lunch, is the latest excuse being used to wonder aloud if Lozano soon may be playing with some of the club’s in PSV’s daunting Champions League group.

 Why can’t we simply enjoy what “Chucky” is doing for what it is? His start with PSV has been incredible. Lozano now has been involved in 15 goals in his last 15 appearances across all competitions for the outfit, scoring 11 and assisting 4.

 Instead, our transfer-obsessed, mega-club focused footballing culture wants to know if he’s going to be announced as the next signing for Barcelona or Inter next summer. Sure, it’s understandable why fans of those clubs – or others reportedly in the mix for Lozano’s signature – might start dreaming of seeing him in their side. But the way he plays the sport now provides enough joy while he’s wearing red-and-white stripes rather than having one of the world’s most famous crests on his chest.

 Lozano fits in perfectly with PSV’s counter-attacking style, something they’ve leaned on even more in the Champions League than they do in the Eredivisie where they’re rarely pinned back. He has the speed to leave fullbacks in the dust and the skills on the ball to get around defenders when he finds himself in the one-on-one situations he so often creates.

 After Wednesday’s finish – a fortunate one that deflected off of Toby Alderweireld but one that never would have happened were it not for the aggressive pressure Lozano put on the defender to win the ball back and set up a scoring chance – he’s now found the back of the net in the Champions League group stage, the Champions League playoff phase, the World Cup, the Concacaf Champions League, the Eredivisie, Liga MX and the Confederations Cup to name a few.

 For all the thrilling performances from the 23-year-old, there are still faults in his game. He lost the ball more often than all but one of his teammates Wednesday, doing so 16 times. Only half of the 16 passes he attempted in the attacking half of the field found the mark, showing how his passing needs to get better against top defenses. The Champions League has been great for Lozano in that respect, pitting him against teams that are much stiffer in the final third than the clubs he’s used to playing against in the Netherlands and going back to Liga MX – one of the leagues with the highest percentage of passes completed in the final third in the world.

 There have, however, been improvements. You can see the European experience paying off. Lozano lacked a deadly free kick and now has become one of the first choices for manager Mark van Bommel to put over the ball when there’s a dead ball in a dangerous area. He is reacting in a much more mature manner when he gets fouled, keeping his head and forcing Spurs players to get shown cards instead of getting revenge and getting his own name written down in the referee’s book. In addition to the red card shown to Lloris, Mousa Dembele ended up in the book Wednesday directly because of moves Lozano put on him that forced the Belgian to make contact.

 That’s evidence of the progress Lozano has made. He has all the ingredients to be a superstar for a team like Spurs or Barcelona, but. like a stew of footballing ingredients, he’s still marinating with that talent bubbling up but yet to bubble over. It will soon, and then we can talk about how Lozano would fit with this team or that team that will move into the Champions League knockout stage. For now, he has to be happy taking the lessons he’s learned in this phase with PSV, fine-tuning his game and becoming the megastar he’s capable of being for one of the world’s few megaclubs. We should be happy as well that we get to watch the process take place.

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