Chucky Lozano’s Renaissance Reaches New Heights In Coppa Italia
Get the best email in soccer.
From living a total “nightmare” to being closely monitored by Manchester United, what a difference six months can make. On Wednesday, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano went full circle by providing an influential performance in Napoli’s Coppa Italia Round of 16 win over Empoli.
Last June, Lozano's tumultuous first season in Naples reached a nadir when he failed to make it off the bench during his side’s Coppa Italia final win over Juventus. In the buildup to that match, Lozano had been dismissed from training by manager Gennaro Gattuso for acting disinterested.
It was a fitting end to a poor campaign that yielded only five goals and two assists in 35 appearances across all competitions despite the enormous $46.5 million transfer fee.
But the new season brought a new Chucky. It took the El Tri winger just three matchdays this season to equal his previous Serie A goalscoring total. Back-to-back braces against Genoa and Atalanta in the fall signaled a rejuvenated attacker, and the 25-year-old now has seven goals and three assists in 16 league games.
"The problem last season was that he didn't have much strength; he couldn't play both halves and he kept falling over,” Gattuso recently explained. “Now he's found himself again; he is scoring goals.”
The Mexican earned a penalty on Sunday in Napoli’s 2-1 league win over Udinese and was handed a start against Empoli in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.
Eighteen minutes into the match, it was Chucky who created Napoli’s opener on the wing after beating his marker and setting up Giovanni Di Lorenzo for a header.
Then, after Empoli had responded through Nedim Bajrami, Lozano pounced on a loose touch before hammering his finish to reassert Napoli’s lead in the 38th minute.
— Best of Serie A (@BestOfSerieA) January 13, 2021
Napoli, with Chucky playing the full 90, would go on to win 3-2 to set up a quarterfinal against the winner of Roma vs. Spezia. Napoli is back in action on Sunday against Fiorentina in Serie A.