If you have followed European football even briefly over the last few years, you will have heard the name Xavi Simons. The young Dutch midfielder was a key part of the Barcelona academy, standing out as one of the most exciting young players in world football. Pairing his outlandish hairstyle with outstanding technical attributes, Simons was seen as a player of the future. So far, though, the ‘highlight’ of his career was to miss in a penalty shootout that knocked Paris Saint-Germain out of the French Cup.
Now 19, things are progressing too slowly for the liking of the midfielder. A return to the Netherlands was mooted, with both former club Ajax and rivals PSV Eindhoven keen to land the player. It looks like he has chosen the latter, too, with a deal agreed with PSG that would have seen the player sign a new deal in Paris and then go on loan to PSV. Somewhere along the way, though, wires have been crossed.
Today, it was announced that Simons would in fact leave PSG on a free transfer and sign a five-year deal in Eindhoven. When his contract ends on Thursday, Simons will make the move back to the Netherlands and look to kick-start an ailing career. Game time has not been forthcoming so far, and thus Simons will want to make sure he can get the game time he needs ASAP.
Seen as one of the most exciting playmakers of his generation, now is the time for the prodigious youngster to show the world what he is capable of.
Can Xavi Simons make good on his elite potential?
Watch the player for even five minutes and it is clear that his talent is very much a real thing. Simons has exceptional close control, can play the ball with both feet, and has a habit of gliding through the pitch. His overall ability, then, simply cannot be held in question. However, upon arrival at Barcelona, he was expected to make it in the first team. Viral videos of his natural dribbling skills marked him out as unique.
He never played in Spain, though, and left in 2019 to join the big-money project at PSG. That did not really work out, either, only making his debut in the 2020-21 season. Nine first team games for PSG last year sounds impressive, but he still looked like a player who was finding his feet at senior level. In the UEFA Youth League, he looked a class above, but at senior level he still looked out of sorts.
As his deal ran out with the Parisians, he and his entourage have made the wise choice to head back to the Netherlands. The chance to play in a PSV team that always gives youth a chance is exciting. The exit of Mario Gotze also opens up a space in the middle of the park that Simons could make his own.
If he is to fulfil his potential as an exciting youngster, it will need to happen in Eindhoven.