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Aged 20, Xavi Simons’ Career has been a ROLLECOASTER

4 minute read Published April 2, 2024

About seven years ago Instagram went crazy for a fourteen year old posting footage of himself playing football for Barcas youth teams. Xavi Simons reached a million followers and he was hailed as the new Messi. 

Despite his parents being Dutch, he grew up in Barcelona. His football and Barcelona obsessed family moved to southern Spain for him and his brother to have a better chance at getting scouted by La Masia. Simons is even named after the legendary Barca midfielder. At seven, the plan worked as Simons was invited to play at La Masia.

Speaking of his parents, there's no surprise Simons would grow up to be an athlete. His father, Regillio Simons, was a professional footballer for many years in the Dutch and Japanese leagues. He currently works as a manager for Eredivisie side Volendam.

And Xavi Simons isn't the only one in the family named after a footballer. His cousin is named Saviola Mourinho Simons. So, the Simons household was all about football. 

For ten years, Simons played for the Barca youth setup and was considered the biggest talent in teams that Ansu Fati and Gavi. Living the dream, right? Well, someone thought he could do better. Enter Mino Raiola.

The legendary agent took Simons under his wing. He convinced the young attacking midfielder that he’d have a better chance at playing senior football with PSG. And a better chance at making a lot of money. All while lining his own pockets, of course. So Simons left Barcelona for Paris.

Tough time at PSG

His time at PSG wasn’t easy though. He had a tough time breaking through to the senior squad despite Pochettino, who’s famous for folding young players into the team, being PSG coach at the time. And when he did get chances, he failed to deliver. In nine appearances he failed to score or assist a single goal.

Simons has a pretty big personality and sometimes comes off as entitled or cocky. Sometimes he’s not been able to live up to his cockiness. Like when he asked to shoot the final, deciding penalty in PSGs 2022 Coupe de France game against Lille and missed. 

Additionally, he’s had problems with celebrating too hard after goals, he’s brought girls back to his room at a youth national team callup. Things like this, it rubs some people the wrong way. He’s been called an Instagram footballer and all hype with no end product.

So when he failed at PSG, many felt schadenfreude.

But neither his “failure” at PSG nor people's glee in it would deter the then 18 year old. At the time his PSG contract was up, Mino Raiola had passed away. Maybe it was because Raiola no longer influenced the young dutchmans decisions that, this time, he chose what was best for his career, not his wallet, when he went to PSV.

Breakthrough at PSV

His move back to the Netherlands and Eindhoven proved to be exactly what he needed. In his first five games at PSV Simons got nine goal contributions. He was one of the best players in the league right away. His performances earned him a spot in the Dutch national team for the Qatar World Cup, although he only got a few minutes of playing time.

Coming back from his national team duties, he got even better. In the 15 games that remained in the league, Simons had a goal contribution per game. 15 goals and assists. He finished the season with 22 goals in all competitions, the top scorer in the league and winner of the Dutch cup. PSV finished second in the league.

Return to PSG and loan to Leipzig

After an incredible season in the Eredivisie there were a lot of clubs reportedly interested in him. Arsenal, Manchester United and many more. One club had an advantage, though. In his contract with PSV he added a clause, specifically for PSG. They could buy out his contract for €6 million. Which, obviously, they did. But still not ready for the PSG starting XI, he was sent on loan to RB Leipzig.

The Bundesliga is a step up from the Eredivisie and Leipzig is a big team in the league and in Europe. But, it’s an adjustment that Simons has handled well. So far, this season, he’s been an important part of the Leipzig attack. He’s contributed eight goals and nine assists and has started every game so far. 

After his first time at PSG many were ready to write him off as yet another failed wonderkid. Many were even happy that the spoiled Instagram footballer didn’t reach his potential. But he’s worked hard to disprove them and now, with an amazing season at PSV and continuing to deliver in the Bundesliga, his career looks like it’s taking off. Remember, despite everything that’s happened in Simons' career already, he’s still only 20 years old.

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