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Things to know about PSG’s rising star

Summary

If you look up ‘wonderkid’ in the dictionary, chances are you’ll find a picture of Dutch midfielder Xavi Simons. From the second he could walk, Simons has been establishing himself as one of the hottest prospects in world football. Raised […]

If you look up ‘wonderkid’ in the dictionary, chances are you’ll find a picture of Dutch midfielder Xavi Simons.

From the second he could walk, Simons has been establishing himself as one of the hottest prospects in world football. Raised in Barcelona, the Dutch teenager is now strutting his stuff in Ligue 1 with PSG and recently made his long-awaited first-team debut.

Here’s all you need to know about him.

Xavi Hernandez
Simons’ is named after Xavi | Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Coming through the Barcelona academy as a midfielder, there were a lot of jokes about Simons being a mini Xavi.

Well, it turns out that was an intentional move from his parents.

Simons’ father, former Dutch forward Regillio, grew up a Barcelona fan and suggested the name Xavi, and his mother signed off on it.

Written in the stars literally since his birth, Simons has always dreamed of following in the footsteps of Xavi.

“I was with the physio when Xavi came over,” he said (via The Sun).
“When I told him that my name was also Xavi, he laughed. It was funny. He’s my idol.

“I know it’s difficult but I will do everything to make it.”

Like Xavi, Simons’ bread-and-butter is assists. He doesn’t mind a goal, but he’ll openly admit that creating chances is much more fun to him.

“I prefer to assist than to score,” he told Soufiane Touzani. “For me, assists are the most important.

“When I score, I am happy, but if a team-mate scores I am also happy. So I prefer to assist because it’s good for the team.”

Simons has grown up representing the Dutch youth sides, but because of his time in Spain, he’s actually eligible to switch and play for La Roja.

However, Simons seems set to stick with his homeland, telling NOS: “Representing your own country is a beautiful thing.”

By the age of 13, Simons had already hit 100,000 followers on Instagram, with his talent blowing up online in around 2017, and the madness has continued ever since.

Having now hit the 3m milestone, Simons has almost stopped caring. Celebratory posts are much more lowkey these days as it’s just a normal part of life for the Dutchman.

That’s more than a lot of the PSG senior players have managed to rack up, and he’s barely even played a minute.

Because of his massive profile, Simons is ahead of pretty much every player his age when it comes to endorsement deals, while most older than him can only dream of the opportunities he has been given.

Signed by Nike at an early age, Simons is worth more than most players his age, and where there’s money, there’s agent Mino Raiola.

Raiola is Simons’ agent and helped land him a blockbuster contract upon his move from Barcelona to PSG.

Because of his undeniable talent, Simons has often played well above his age group, and while that has helped his development, it also exposed just how much his physicality was lacking.

In an exclusive interview with 90min in France, Simons’ personal trainer revealed just how much effort the young Dutchman has to go through to build up the muscle mass needed to be able to make his senior debut.

After working tirelessly following the suspension of the 2019/20 season, Simons’ hard work paid off when he made his first appearance in the Coupe de France third round in February 2021.

Despite all his work with the personal trainer, Simons will obviously never be a big player. His small frame makes him look like a target for defenders, but the Dutchman has learned how to use his body to his advantage.

With his low centre of gravity, Simons knows how to make the ball glue to his feet. He’s capable of skipping past players with terrifying ease, and because of that, he’s never afraid to pop up in tight spaces which most players might try and avoid.

Simons likes to lure players towards him to create space for other team-mates, safe in the knowledge that he can hold his own when two or three players try to overwhelm him.

Simons’ skill set means he’s capable of playing anywhere in midfield, and he regularly switches positions for both club and country.

He’s got that tempo-dictating mentality which makes him perfect to drop deep and collect the ball from the centre-backs, but he’s just as comfortable drifting further forward and trying to unlock defences with passes or shots.

It’s a play-style similar to that of Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, who is capable of drifting between the lines with the kind of ease you rarely see.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!



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