PSG has officially signed the young “Star” who has been playing for Barça since he was seven years old for three seasons. A great hope for European football and – already – a marketing icon.
“wonderkid” , “New Xavi/Messi…”. These are all labels in the name of 16-year-old Xavi Simons, who signed his first professional contract for three seasons at PSG on Tuesday. The Dutch player was taken from Barça, where he had been playing since the age of seven, which is unlikely to improve relations between the two rival clubs.
This young talent has hair similar to that of Carles Puyol, he treats football fans to videos regularly broadcast by the Barcelona training centre for years and has become a media phenomenon. Tuesday was a busy day for the teenager. He made his departure from FC Barcelona official at the end of his contract with his 1.6 million subscribers on Instagram (more than OM or OL!) and his Twitter community, in three languages. In the morning, as unveiled by Culture PSG, the midfielder also came out of a 4×4 parked in front of the PSG headquarters, in the wake of his agent Mino Raiola. The same as Marco Verratti, Paul Pogba or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. During this visit, he signed until 2022, as formalized by the capital’s club at the end of the day.
As is often the case with these types of phenomena, it is necessary to distinguish between fantasies, media aura and the player’s real value. As for the game, the kid is totally impregnated with Barça DNA. The son of a former Dutch striker’s son bears this identity right down to his first name, chosen in reference to the former captain of Barça, who was 23 years old when he was born.
“From time to time, at the Masía, I would watch the training sessions and see that he was different,” said Gerard Lopez, former coach of the Barça reserve team. He is a complete midfielder, capable of playing in the same position as Busquets or Xavi. He has the vision of the game and above all, he is a leader of his team. He ordered his partners’ play and that is innate: you have it or you don’t. Xavi Simons has it. “In Barça, the player was wearing the captain’s armband and was one of the house’s strongest hopes. According to Mundo Deportivo, the club offered him 200,000 euros in annual salary and a place in the reserve team. Insufficient compared to the MTP.
Mino Raiola with a stick
“Not all the coaches agreed on it,” says a Masia journalist. Some believed in him, others thought he would have trouble reaching the top level. He has good ball protection but he carries his ball too much, there are often two or three touches too many. He is a talented, courageous, very combative player but perhaps not the most talented of his generation either. Barça did not want to make an excessive effort for him. »
Francesc Aguilar, a journalist with “Mundo Deportivo”, reveals another side: “If Barça didn’t insist on holding him back? A name: Mino Raiola. Apart from President Bartomeu, none of the leaders have good relations with him. The club tried to control the minors on Twitter or Instagram, but Simons did as it pleased, supported by Raiola. “The reporter from the newspaper close to the club reflects a certain bitterness: “Barça is disappointed because Simons is an old man, he was one of the youngsters who laid the foundation stone of the new Masia. But there are better and more discreet training centres than him. »
In Paris, Xavi Simons will most likely first join Stéphane Roche’s under-19 group. He will be joined by a former team-mate of Barça, Frenchman Kays Ruiz, one year his senior. More recently, the prodigy had the opportunity to meet another Parisian… Neymar, during the Spanish Grand Prix of F 1, whose potential and atypical style seduced Nike, who made him one of his heroes. “He’s a market player to succeed, a beast of social networks,” confirms Gerard Lopez. This generation loves everything that shines and shone brighter than others…”
Xavi Simons’ signing in Paris will be another step forward in every respect, as the former coach of the Barcelona training centre points out: “He’s an excellent young player, promising, but I hope the character he created with Raiola won’t eat him. Going to Paris can do him good. He’s going to face another football, more physical. He will suffer and it will be good for him, for his learning. »