First Nicolas Pepe signed for Arsenal, then Zinedine Zidane executed the swiftest of U-turns on James Rodriguez. As the transfer buzz around Stadio San Paolo dampened, it was beginning to look as if that marquee attacker Napoli had been chasing all summer might have to take a rain-check. 


Ever the knight in shining armour, however, on Friday morning, club chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis came wading in to save the day. 

'Benvenuto Hirving' read the tweet from his personal account, confirming the signing of PSV winger Hirving Lozano, who had been reported to have been in Naples for a medical. 


And while it may not be Pepe, Rodriguez or any of the more established signings that ​Napoli fans had hoped to see coming in earlier in the window, the €42m deal may just prove to be one of the wisest investments any club will make in what has been a busy summer across the continent. 


The obvious reason for that is, statistically, he goes toe to toe with any forward in Europe over the last season or two. In 2018/19, he averaged a goal every 145 minutes in the Eredivisie, with 17 goals in 30 appearances. Pepe, the clear comparison given they are of the same age-group, netted 22 in 37 in Ligue 1 - a goal every 151. 

There might be a €30m discrepancy between the fees paid for Pepe and Lozano, but their seasons were remarkably similar. Eight assists for Lozano and 11 for Pepe mean they were more or less level on goal contributions as relative to minutes played in their domestic leagues. 


Brandishing blistering pace and the ability to unlock defences with either foot - with his 40 appearances in all competitions last season seeing him feature 25 times on the right and 15 on the left - he brings another dimension to the Napoli attack, although it isn't abundantly clear at present where he fits into Carlo Ancelotti's rigid 4-4-2 .


He could be used as an attack-minded option on either side of the four, but these roles are often entrusted to the likes of Fabian Ruiz and Jose Callejon - players who bring some defensive balance to the table. 

Fabian Ruiz,Jean-Clair Todibo

It seems more feasible, instead, that he is being lined up as a long-term replacement for Dries Mertens, who turned 32 in May, and found his game-time carefully managed over the course of last season. 


You don't need to look far to see the comparisons between the two. Like Lozano, Mertens was signed from PSV as a winger off the back of a tremendous goalscoring season, and after being converted into a second striker, he would go on to become an Azzurri icon. 


While Lozano was used almost exclusively as a wide player over the course of 2018/19, his centre-forward potential had been hinted at with sporadic auxiliary striker appearances, the pinnacle of which heralded a goal and an assist against AZ Alkmaar in 2018. At 24, it's clear he has the intelligence, subtlety, and goal-scoring ability to transpose himself into a long-term partner for Arkadiusz Milik in the post-Mertens era. 

Arkadiusz Milik,Dries Mertens

Of course, if that is the plan, then he'll have big shoes to fill there, and won't assume the role right away. Despite being limited to 23 ​Serie A starts last season, the Belgian still finished with 16 goals and 10 assists in the league - so the Mexican may well have to bide his time and make the most of any opportunities that come his way.


The perception of Lozano - nicknamed 'Chucky' due to his apparent resemblance to the doll - as an ill-disciplined maverick may inspire caution, but it's one he has gone some way towards shaking off over the last year. 


While his final season with CF Pachuca in his native Mexico and his debut season with PSV saw him see red four times for his hot-headed troubles, 2018/19 was the first season since 2014/15 that he wasn't once sent off. It seems he may be seeing the back of his 'next Luis Suarez' reputation at just the right time. 

HIrving Lozano

At face value, he's a young player with freakish numbers over the last two seasons, performing at such a level that even a significant initial drop-off due to the step-up in standard of opposition, could see him make a lasting first impression. 


He's shown clear signs of maturing away from the one black spot on his record, and his career trajectory closely follows the man who has shown himself to be one of the best forwards in world football while wearing Napoli colours. 


No signing brings any guarantees, but this one looks like a shoo-in.