It’s impressive to see a teenager like Lamine Yamal putting behind him every day a team the size of the FC Barcelona. Even more so because in that team men like Lewandowski either Gundogan, who are more than twice as old (they turned 16 in July). Far from being a rarity, these types of situations have multiplied in football, which does not respect the growth phases, as happened to Xavi Simons (Amsterdam, 2003). Another ex-Azulgrana who, first from PSV, and now in the ranks of RB Leipzigrival of real Madrid in the round of 16 (Tuesday, 8:45 p.m.), he has found an ecosystem to be reborn at 20 years old.
Freddy Adu, from the ‘new Pelé’ to sell vacuum cleaners
Yes, age shows the centrifuge of talent that is elite sport. With barely two decades under his belt, Simons has the resume of a veteran who has been able to impose his own pace of growth and ambitions. First at PSV and now in Germany he has taken off his broken toy label or ‘marketing’ product that haunts many young people who exploit quickly.
The paradigmatic case is that of Freddy Adua Ghanaian player who at the age of 13 signed the highest contract in the history of the American MLS at that time, in addition to an agreement with Nike for more than one million euros. Adu, who was nicknamed the ‘new Pelé’, broke all records for precocity until he began to stumble among the elite. After being rejected even by third-party Swedish teams, he ended up selling vacuum cleaners. Luckily for Simons, his conversion will allow him, barring an unexpected turn, to live among the football elite.
The Leipzig attacker was born in Amsterdam, but at the age of three he moved to Rojales (Alicante), a town where his maternal family had moved and where his father, Regilio, spent his summers. He was a footballer (formerly of Nac Breda or Willem II), so his two sons, Faustino and Xavi, started playing for the club. Thader Sports Clubwith whom the RB Leipzig player maintains a close relationship.
Real Madrid tempted Xavi Simons, trapped by fame
So much so that in 2022, the Alicante city council named a municipal artificial grass field with the name of the Dutchman, who retained his nationality, that would end up taking him to the World Cup in Qatar. Osasuna player Moi Gómez is a native of Rojales, who gives the name to the stadium where Tháder plays at home, who made a draw – sponsored by Simons – to travel to Germany to watch the match between RB Leipzig and Real Madrid, one of the teams that tempted him after his departure from Barça.
There was no agreement with the white entity, as he himself would later admit. Xavi – he is named after the Barcelona coach who is still a coach – Simons was a Barça player from the age of 9 and stood out very early for his virtues on the field, despite being in training football, but also outside of it.
The environment and the brands understood that a child could be exploited like an adult. Nike put a million-dollar contract on the table for him when he was just a child. They valued her image more even than her abilities. Her curly hair was a magnet on social networks, where she began to amass an unusual influence. This overexposure had clear negative effects.
While his digital reputation grew, with photos of stars like Neymar, on the fields fame took its toll. He was watched more than necessary and even received insults. He had been happier with the previous path, where he had managed to be, for example, the MVP of the Promises League in 2015. Simons grew at the pace they set for him and in 2019, before making the move to the Barça youth team, he decided not to renew with the Barça club.
PSG’s false promises to be in the first team
A decision that he made despite the salary of 200,000 euros that he was offered, above colleagues like Gavi, with whom he coincided in La Masia. The conditions were rejected by the young footballer’s agent, the late Mino Raiola, who represented, among others, Erling Haaland. Simons went to PSG and did so, according to him, for sporting reasons. The French entity promised him, despite his 16 years, options to play in a first team in which they were Neymar, Messi either Mbappeamong others.
The Dutch footballer had started his career as a midfielder. As the years went by, due to his good hitting, arrival and overflowing, he advanced positions. Logically, with that squad, Simons, despite training most of the season with the first team, He made his competitive life in the youth team of PSG. She experienced several situations of indiscipline. In a Youth League match – the youth Champions – he was reprimanded by his coach Zoumana Camara.
“You have to be aware that you are at Paris Saint-Germain, of the shirt you are wearing and that you represent an important club. This is not just about talent on the field, you have to know how to be there and not respond to provocations” , reproached him in public after a controversial celebration against Sevilla. Although Pochettino gave him his debut in Ligue 1, Simons, having just come of age, I needed to feel important in another club. It seemed inappropriate for a player who should be developing, but his odometer had already passed the phase.
The explosion at PSV and the consolidation at RB Leipzig
The possibility of returning to the origins appeared. Simons went to PSV, with whom he scored 22 goals and 12 assists in 48 official matches. He tied with Douvikas, current Celta player, as top scoreri’ of the Eredivisie and won the Netherlands Cup. Beyond the numbers He freed himself from false expectations, social media metrics and goals that, ultimately, he was never going to achieve because he was not convinced.
He settled on the left wing and He made a great association with another former Barça player like Luuk de Jong. He knew how to replace Cody Gakpo, the PSV star for whom Liverpool paid 42 million after their great World Cup in Qatar. Simons was also there, under the orders of Louis Van Gaal, despite the fact that, once again, he faced voices against his call. The soundtrack that has followed him in a career that he has finally managed to stabilize.
View of the attacker’s explosionPSG made effective the option they had to buy Simons for 6 million euros. He renewed it until 2027, but decided to assign it again, to RB Leipzig. Another ideal club for your development. Improved men like Upamecano, Haaland, Mané and Nkunku have emerged from the different franchises of the Red Bull factory. The decision has once again been correct.
Among all the competitions Simons has played 29 games this seasonseven goals and nine assists, now from the right flank and instructed by a great trainer like Marco Rose. Its market value has skyrocketed above 70 millionaccording to Transfermarkt, and this has opened a dispute between RB Leipzig, who wants to acquire his services permanently, and PSG.
The French team, in the midst of a reconversion phase, with Mbappé as a destabilizing element, wants to make Simons one of the architects of its future, along with Warren Zaïre-Emery, who is barely 17 years old. The Dutchman will be able to advise you from the experience that he has experienced in a sport where it has gone from being a broken toy to a jewel that any team wants to have.