Xavi Simons: he really exists!

He was the most famous Dutch player who never played a senior pro game in his life. Xavi Simons. Son of Reginald Simons (a once upon a time striker for Fortuna Sittard, FC Den Haag and Kyoto Purple Sanga) and named after the current Barca coach. (Xavi, for the slower ones amongst us…).

Xavi is born in Amsterdam, where his dad had a brief career as Ajax youth coach, but the family moved to Spain to give Xavi his chance at one of the biggest clubs on the planet. Barcelona of course.

The midfielder with the vision of his name sake and the looks of a blond Gullit-like demi-god made his way into the hearts and minds of football fans the world over and his reputation became bigger than his actual football exploits.

Last season, at PSG, he had 10 benchwarming matches before he made his debut as a 17 year old. He got 1 minute vs Strasbourg, replacing Ander Herrera. The only thing the less switched on ones saw was that his hair style resembled one Carlos Valderrama. This month, he finally made his true debut in the first team of Paris St Germain.

His coach sent him onto the pitch with the aim to change something, force something. This time, it wasn’t symbolic. Not a sub turn to give him a signal. They were trailing vs Peter Bosz’ Lyonnais and there were only 20 minutes left. Something needed to happen.

And these were minutes he earned, based on his performances in the French Cup games, his games in the U19 team and his training efforts with the first team.

Simons didn’t hide in the Lyon game. He wan’t on the pitch for a minute or he passed the ball to Mbappe with a crafty backheel flick. He also saw a tremendous through ball option for the French forward but his pass was just not weighty enough. He played with energy and intent and demonstrate a silky touch in confined spaces. He even won a header one time, and he’s not the tallest of players. After the match, coach Pocchetino complimented him on his game.

So yes, he does exist and yes he can play. We have seen many clips of him on Youtube and social media and it felt like this 10-year old blond kid could walk on water. When he turned 16, he decided to go to PSG. He didn’t see a plan for him at Barca anymore and gambled on PSG.

Initially his coach at Paris St Germain said to the media that he was training well, had a good personality and could have a great career at the highest level. This is a friendly way of saying: “I am not going to use him too much…”. And we all need to keep on realising that Xavi Simons indeed is still a year younger than Gravenberch (to name another example), or Ihattaren. And… his contract in Paris ends after this season. With Neymar, Mbappe, Messi and Di Maria at his club, Xavi might have to be patient, should he stay in Paris. It is now time for him to make the right choice. He needs to start playing now. He needs to be at a club where his new coach will treat him like Pep treated Foden, or Ten Hag treated Timber.

Now, it is not the Instragram clips that will determine how good he is, but the minutes he’ll play in a first team somewhere.

Barcelona has already winked at him again. In the youth academy in Spain, he made an impression by seeing the forward pass way earlier than his peers. He is not only named after the current Barca coach, he also plays on his position. As the controlling mid, he was the engine that made all the youth teams click. A lot of the tiki-taka attackes on the internet started with him. His technical skills and his blonde locks made him a popular topic amongst football followers.

Even before he turned 16, he was used as the figure head in a Barca campaign aimed at mending the relationship between La Masia and the first team. It really hurt the club and the socios when his exit was announced in 2019.

Some people think Simons went for the money. But in truth, PSV presented him with a better plan. The perspective for Barca youngsters wasn’t great under chairman Baromeu and there were some many different cliques and groups that resulted in a culture were youth coaches feared for their jobs if they didn’t get results. Under coaches Valverde and Setien, the door to the first team was firmly locked.

At PSG, Simons did get that opportunity. Even better, the Paris Academy deserves credit. The European top leagues are filled with talents who were developed at PSG. They invested in Simons, but not just financially. He was able to play in the Youth League with the U19 when he was only 16 years old. And while the club could use his talent and skills, Xavi himself worked on his physical strength and endurance. With Pocchettino in charge, Simons got a serious chance to show himself, and he made his first team debut at 17 years old.

But at PSG, things changed too. In a spectacular transfer window, PSG signed several top names, like Messie and Ramos and Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum, to name a few. Pochettino sees Simons as an attacking, creative midfielder, but Paris St Germain already has Di Maria, Messi, Neyamr, Wijnaldum, Draxler and Alcantara for this position. And the former Spurs coach has difficulty finding his right team which resulted in some youngster, like Simons, going back to the U19 squad.

For Xavi, this is a step back. He will have to focus on the top matches in the Youth League, but that is also where he was two years ago. The position switch from holding mid to the false striker/10 role worked well for him. He scored two goals and four assists in his last three Youth League games. U19 coach Zamara: “I can’t complain about him. When he is with us, he gives it all. His mentality is wonderful. If this goes on, he won’t be with us for much longer. Dutch U19 coach Bert Konterman also tried Xavi in the strikers role, a position he seems to fill easily,  with his skills in the small spaces.

PSG wants to extend his deal but Simons and his management – dad Reggie and uber agent Mino Raiola – keep the courting at bay. There is no guarantee that things will change in Paris for the youngster.

The Spanish media say that Barca is rekindling the relationship. Raiola was in Barcelona recently for a long talk with Barca President Laporta and Simons’ name was mentioned. The new Barca boss was keen to see if he could deliver a nice PR blow to the French rivals. Ever since Neymar left for Paris, the two clubs are less than friendly. Xavi Hernandez is aware of the talks. The new coach has given it his blessing, as he remembers the youngster well from his playing days.

Under Koeman, the doors to La Masia were kicked open with a vengeance. And as per usual, this was due to lack of other options (we have seen this before) but it has worked well: talents like Araujo, Oscar Mingueza, Gavi and Nico Gonzalez have made the leap to the first team, like Pedri and Ansu Fati have done before them.

When Xavi took the coaching job, he immediately had seven Barca B players join in at practice.

Xavi Hernandez is keen to keep this going. He has had his loyal assistant Alegre check the youth teams out in September and October and he asked for detailed reports on the young talents. With Langlet and Umtiti on the way out, there will be more youngsters making their way to the first team, for sure, such as Marmol, Akhomach and Ezzalzouli.

Barca will bounce back and become one of the most attractive clubs of Europe, for young players. A good place for Xavi Simons to develop himself further. The Dutchman has grown physically in France and became more versatile. He will have some competition from Gavi, Pedri and Nico who can all play on that playmaker / false striker spot. It will be interesting to see where this young talent will end up and how he will measure up. Who knows, his nine year old dream to play in Barca 1 might actually come true…

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  1. His timing was off when he switched to PSG. If he would stayed, with the arrival of Koeman, he would have been playing now with likes of fati, pedri and others.

    He ticks all the boxes for a modern day AM and its been a while that a midfielder like him is on the brink of breaking on to the main stage.

    On another note I dont understand why the KNVB is not taking any steps of fast tracking his development and calling him up for JO. Jurgen Ekkelenkemp has been a starter for JO at AM but looking at the very little of what simons has shown, he still could easily compete with him. I also think like many others Ekkelenkemp with time will be lost like many others who graced JO level. In the same boat as other midfielders who are only decsive in the box.

  2. Like I said the stars are slowly linning up for the Dutch. Veerman move to PSV will be break through or key to the NT. Simons, Matusiwa at Remis is also somebody to look out for in future. He has already come into spotlight.this was before his injury.


    Lastly, Gravenberch, there has been alot of hype around him and how big clubs are circling him. Lets hope he lives up to expectation and becomes a intergral piece in the midfield for NT in two years time.

  3. Watched Bayern leverkusen vs Augsburg. Bakker and Frimpong both had a good game and assisted in one goal each. Leverkusen demolishing them 5-1. BL has pretty much a young squad U23 with few older players and its good to see how they click with each other and execute phase plays. For example on bakkers assist, diaby gets a through ball from the middle, he loses poessesion in the dual but the ball get deflected and goes back to Bakker. Bakker passes it back to Diaby ( on the flank) with two defenders still on him. Bakker then makes a overlapping run. Diaby then releases a perfect timed ball to him beating both defenders. Bakker reveives the ball and then launches a powerful ground shot which Bellerabi connects and scores from the side of the flank.

    Frimpong, as usually was pocket rocket and stretched the defense with his runs. He was also heavily involved in the build up for the 5th goal. By that time he had moved up to the wing position to make way for Timothy Fesu Mensah at RB. You can only imagine what will happen when he reaches his full potential given he is just 19-20. He will defintely be playing for a big team in not so distant future. 23-25

    Malen also had a hattrick of assist for Dortmund vs Hoffenhiem. Caught the highlights of this game. Probably this was one of his best game since joining Dortmund.

  4. In transfer news, you might remember this player, Jizz Hornkamp at Heerenveen few seasons back. He started as a striker but then was switched to RB.I also talked about him after he joined Den Bosch in eerste divisie after he refused to RB at Heerenveen.

    Well Willem 11 have signed him and hopefully this will be a stepping stone for him to continue developing and market himself. The 2020-2021 season , Den Bosch finished second last but he still managed 20 goals finishing third highest scorer. He is a very good Lautaro Martinez esque striker.

    Also Sydney Van Hooijdonk, son of Pierie Van Hooijdonk joins Heerenveen from Bologna. Couldnt make a break through in serie A and and his back in eredivisie on loan.

    1. It’s hard to say for sure. The rounding of the ball can still be over the line. They did an experiment in Studio Voetbal and the amount of green grass between ball and white line is quite big. But no one knows for sure, so the VAR had to support the linesman. PSV didn’t lose the match due to this though. They were poor and cowardice.

  5. Few takes from the Ajax and PSV game.

    Timber under pressure will crack and this is why I have had doubts over him. He is good on ball but his concentration in defense is question mark. Again if you look at that dual between him and gakpo just prior to the equalizing goal, gakpo made him look like small kid shielding and shrugging him off. His error aside.

    One guy that caught my eye was Armando Obispo. He had a good game in defense. His dual with Brobbery which got him injured was act of bravery and courage. He showed no intent of holding back and went into the tackle and was thrown in the air, landing acrobatically. He also had some good duals with Timber and Anotny defusing dangerous attacking phases. Top defender in making.

    If brobbery would have stayed, I think Ajax would have won either way. Schmidt still looks to be struggling with getting his tatic right. He started with Mauro Junior at LB who was suffociating in defense and then on brobbery goal got bulldozed over. I did see philip Max on bench. Dont know whats the story there. Was suprised as well when Zahavi and Bruma were introduced only after Ajax scored the second goal.

    Another player who impressed me was Jordan Teze. Not completey but he did shut down Tadic on a number of occasions. Once again the tatical change which saw him move to CB and Mwene came on at RB, resulted in Ajax and Tadic gaining the upper hand and started exiploting from that flank. Once again Ajax build their attack from the flanks , Tadic and Antony, bringing others into the game.

    Veerman, the formation Schmidt started with really restricted his movement but still looked the brightest when with the ball. Again shutting the critics up. Antony tried to nugmate him in one phase of play but failed miserably. I havnt looked at his stats but he was involved in few breakdowns as well. If I recall correctly with Antony.

    Last but not least, how VAR allowed the second goal was stinky. In the build up to the goal the ball had clearly gone out of the play with replays showing it beyong any doubt but they concluded it another wise.

    1. Wilson, Timber is still young. He’s a top talent who tends to be a bit lackluster (Rijkaard style) at times. That will pass.

      Teze is indeed a good talent.

      The VAR didn’t do anything wrong. I will try and post that video soon.

  6. Sorry i guys i missed the cracker match,perhaps Title decider..could only watch highlights…
    From wat i have seen from high lights the ball was out 90 percent or above before blind passing to Masseroui…anyway goal was beauty .i thought ajax will ease past PSV but may be loss of Brobbey has restricted them..Brobbey looked sharp before injury..i have gut feeling he could be the replacement for Depay at WC..Brobbey can score in crunch matches..
    Reports says Blind will cause problems for ajax in crunch games at Champions league..Many peopel love ajax game but all skeptical on Blind..
    @wilson..Timber is a monster ,it was just a mistake by Timber(it happens with Virgil too)..B/W Gakpo is improving he is a menace at left wing with his work rate.he is skilled ,he is fast ,he has lonranger shots…He must start over Danhumma at NT..its not bad to loose to our Gakpo…ha ha.

    1. Yes Til is a typical guy. A one trick pony. If he can do what he does so well, he’s great. If not, he’s not really contributing much… I do like him.

  7. This is really unfortunate.

    Dutch Football 🇳🇱
    Brian Brobbey is out for six weeks due to a torn ligament in his knee. (De Telegraaf)

  8. This is really unfortunate.

    Dutch Football 🇳🇱
    Brian Brobbey is out for six weeks due to a torn ligament in his knee. (De Telegraaf)

    1. Will be interesting to see how Ajax cope. Danilo was on the market for a while but looks like he might be called on until Haller gets back, or maybe they’ll just play Tadic at 9.

      Jong Ajax doesn’t even have any true 9’s they could call up. Rasmussen, Hansen, Unuvar, de Waal are all hybrid 10/9’s.

      1. Its possible Tadic moves into the striker role, he’s played there in the past. Perhaps, then, Klaassen to the No. 10, and Berghuis outside. Or some combination with the young guys. Its not the way Ajax have played this year, so not ideal, but its a short term fix.

    1. Yes it is a rumor. It’s fueled by the fact that Pep has said (repeatedly) that he would like to coach an NT and as he ‘s a big JC fan and lover of Dutch football, why not.

      He now makes 450k per week though… Based on that salary, the KNVB could sign him for 3 weeks max hahahaha….

      There is a campaign started by Koeman’s manager to get Koeman back into it. I think Koeman is a safer bet than Pep.

      There is a clip going around of Pep and Koeman playing golf and Koeman saying that he would agree to be Pep’s assistant coach. Pep: “All you would do is book nice dinners and plan golf trips!”

      1. No way, Koeman deserves to be at the helm again after he ditched NT for Barcelona. its time for younger coaches to take the job. Bosz, Ten Hag (Unlikely). I would love to see KNVB approach Christopher Galtier if any (foreigner) with his 4-4-2 style.

        like I said 2024-2026 is very special project and you need someone with modern day touch to it. bosz for me is the best candidate

  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TCSZD3Tr2o

    This is the banter between Koeman and Pep (in Spanish, sadly).

    Koeman: “Why won’t you coach the Dutch NT? You always loved Dutch football. You are actually part Dutch, almost.”

    Pep: “You are not that good at positioning play and you don’t have too many good wingers now, right? But… if the Dutch need me, here I am!!”

    Koeman: “And I will be President”

    Pep: “No you will be my assistant!”

    Koeman: “I tell you what, I will be nobody’s assistant, but for you… I would sign up as your assistant, for sure. And if you want to fire me, fire me!”

    Pep: “no no no, I need you… You need to plan dinners and golf trips!”

  10. @ Jan

    It would be no use arguing on this because a technology like the VAR goal line technology would only prove it beyond any doubt. unfortunately that doesn’t exist and the debate will be on preference basis. However if you recall that Real Madrid and ajax game which had the same incident involving Mazzouri on the sideline, in which the VAR made the decision and allowed the goal to stand after seeing it from all angles.


    now in this game the VAR concluded there were not in a position to confirm whether it was in or out and referred it to the decision of the lineman. this is where it really boiled up and as per the footages Schmidt was seen saying “give the cup to Ajax”. now first of all you have VAR which if I recall correctly was in Ziest and they couldn’t make the decision. its a shame tbh because its the very reason why they are there. what happened to to all the angles. then it came to to the linemen who was IN no way in position to see whether the ball was in or out because Blind body position and both foot was obscuring his view of position of the ball.

    also could you enlighten more on this:

    “PSV didn’t lose the match due to this though. They were poor and cowardice”

    1. It is rather simple. VAR can only intervene if it can with “absolute certainty” prove or disprove a decision made on the field by a referee. In this case, since the linesman did not raise his flag, the VAR would have had to demonstrate with absolute certainty that the ball was out which it could not do. Had the linesman raised his flag, but play allowed to continue with the same outcome ie a goal by Mazraoui, then it would have been the opposite meaning that the VAR would not have been allowed to overcome the decision and the goal would have been canceled. It was exactlky the same story in Madrid and in countless other matches all over the world. Same rules apply in the US with American football.

    2. The VAR rules is: they only jump in when the ref’s decision is a clear and obvious mistake. The VAR couldn’t because there simply aren’t byline or touch line cameras available. Anywhere. So no point in being a whiner.

      Fried Schmidt is considered a sore loser in The Netherlands.

      As for my other comments: PSV played at home and needed a win to keep Ajax at bay. They didn’t play like that. Ajax could have kept the ball in the back all first half without any pressure form PSV. They didn’t really want to win it, for me.

  11. @Wilson, I didn’t see the game, and the only replays I’ve seen of the play were from an angle. Were there any straight down the line views? The replay rules of most of the sports here in the US are that unless there is “clear and convincing” or “indisputable” evidence, the call on the field stands Is that the same standard in the Eredivisie?

      1. I think the rule in general is clear for both goals and ball going out. it needs to fully cross the line and like in the goal line technology its the Ariel view or more lateral side which confirms it. the game I watched, the replay showed that there a very fine bounce just before blind connects to the ball. its a matter of split seconds and most of the debate I see from when Blind is about to hit the ball. that bounce was critical and nobody has talked about it. some replays has been clear on this (bounce) and you would have expected the VAR to better job.

    1. @Wilson, thanks for the response above. Among the other changes VAR needs is that it should have the aerial view of straight down all the lines, otherwise difficult to tell on close calls.

      Nice move for Botman. I remember the article Jan posted on De Vrij, and how he spoke about the training he received there. This could/should be a good boost for his career—if he can get himself on the field.

  12. The lost one. Joost Van Ake returns to heerenveen after championship and bundasliga 2 adventure. Him and Sydney van Hooijdonk are the new inclusion for them.

    Good news for Kik Pierie as well. He is fully recovered and ready to go. Could see him after the international break. He has been on the sideline for a long time

  13. Leeds united is also making a late bid to sign Noa Loa. It looks his relationship with is already off to a bad start schreuder after he was not happy beind subbed over the weekend.

  14. Leeds united is also making a late bid to sign Noa Loa. It looks like his relationship with schreudr is already off to a bad start after he was not happy beind subbed over the weekend.

  15. Bakker to Newcastle to be finalized in the coming days. have to say though he is one lucky guy having played at 2nd tier and going on to play top flight football. No doubt with his defensive attributes he has what it takes to survive in epl but he needs to work on his attacking side as well. most teams have attacking fullbacks and this will be challenge for him.

  16. Troyes have also released Philippe sandler who was the on loan from City. the new coach has come under pressure form city in context to game time for their loanees.

  17. Looks like there will be fallout between Lang and Alfred Schruder as their relationship has started deteriorating. Last week Lang went straight into the tunnel showing his dissatisfaction for being subbed off and today he started him in the midfield and subbed him at HT. This doesnt look good at all.

    I dont think Schruder will last there for long. You can see the big difference in style of play under schruder now and clement before. Under clement it was more free flow and now its becoming that same dutch old school, pinch hitter and getting the ball up to him style. I hope lang gets out of there.

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