masia | 2015-06-13
Xavi Simons - The wonderkid who is following his senior namesake's footsteps
The Dutch have played a big part in Barcelona’s success over the past century. Not only have great players like Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskins, Ronald Koeman, Frank De Boer etc. successfully laid their marks on the pitch, the Dutch were also the ones who laid the foundations for the way we play: initially through Rinus Michels and his total football in the 1970’s and then through Johan Cruyff who later adjusted Michel’s system and created el Dream Team, which eventually led to Pep Guardiola setting new standards for the club, in terms of success. Cruyff was also the one who decided to replicate Ajax Amsterdam’s way of running a footballing academy, which has made La Masia what it is today.
Despite all of this, we rarely have any Dutch players in our academy. However, the only two (that I’m aware of) that we have are extremely talented. One of them is Bobby Adekanye, currently on loan at PSV because he is unable to play due to the FIFA ban, he is expected to return before 2016. The other one is Xavi Simons and boy is this tanned kid with crazy blonde curls something special.
Named after Xavi
In 2003, Xavi Simons was born in Amsterdam. His dad, former player Regillio Simons, happened to be a Barça fan, and more specifically, a Xavi Hernández fan. His mother, Peggy, also liked Xavi so they named their son after the then 23-year-old Barcelona midfielder. He grew up in the town of Rojales in Alicante, where the family moved when Regillio retired as a player. The young Xavi started playing football for Club Deportivo Thader, where he was handpicked by former head of La Masia, Guillermo Amor, when he was just seven years old. You have to be something special for Barcelona to be after you at such a tender age.
And Xavi Simons is just that - something special. In Barcelona they say he’s a kid who plays like a veteran. There is no doubt that he is talented but that is nothing new for any La Masia player. On top of that talent, Xavi has everything you need to become a fine footballer. He is hard working, competitive, constantly running where the ball is both in attack and defence, and has been a leader and captain ever since he arrived at the club. In general, his enthusiasm is outstanding. He gives his all every single time. This is what makes talents stand out and all this together makes him one of the most talented players we have at La Masia. He controls play well and adds a bit of his own flair, but his style doesn’t actually resemble that of Xavi Hernández, nor does he evoke thoughts of Andrés Iniesta. Despite having fantastic technique and vision, Xavi Simons is aggressive and plays with an intense mindset. The way he works for every single ball is astonishing, especially given his somewhat delicate physical stature. He’s a fighter, but a majestic one.
Of course, Xavi Hernández is Xavi Simons’ idol. “I was with the physio when Xavi came over,” young Simons said. “When I told him that my name was also Xavi, he laughed. It was funny. He’s my idol. I know it’s difficult but I will do everything to make it.”
Wanted by Chelsea
Before the start of this season, reports in Spain suggested that Chelsea scouts were so impressed with what they saw from Xavi Simons, that the Blues offered his parents a big-money deal to try to lure them into a move to London. With Xavi Simons being one of those talents who is cherished in a particular way by Barça, the club acted immediately and convinced his parents that their son has a bright future at the Camp Nou, which made them reject the offer. However, the reports suggest that Chelsea will most likely come back with an improved offer.
Premier League giants going for La Masia talents every summer is nothing new. They offer the players around the age of 16 (the legal age at which they can sign their first professional contract in Spain) more money than Barça would be able to give them before they join either Barça B or the first team. Therefore it won’t be a surprise if Chelsea and probably others too (looking at you, Arsenal) come knocking on Xavi Simons’ door once again before he turns 16. It’s not something Barça fans should be very worried about, either. They get rejected almost every single time because the kids know that their chances of playing at Camp Nou one day are high. The club makes sure that they know it and that’s the case with Xavi Simons.
Xavi joined the Pre Benjamin squad in the 2010/2011 season and made an immediate impact by winning the league. The season afterwards he went on to Benjamin C where he eventually joined Benjamin A in the 2012/2013 season, where he really started to show his talent. Sergi Mila’s team, led by Xavi Simons, became champions in the last game of the season with a 6-0 win against Can Rull, ending the season two points ahead of rivals Espanyol. Xavi and Benjamin A completed The Double afterwards by defeating Cornella in the Catalan Cup.
Last season, Xavi was at Cristian Catena’s Alevin C, and was once again the dominating force on a ridiculously talented team with other great players like Mamadou Saidouh, Arnau Ollé, Marc Pelaz, Pau Servat, Alejandro Balde and Arnau Farnós. They became league champions on the same day that the first team lost the league title at home to Atletico Madrid. This season, Xavi Simons and the rest of the team has been at Alevin A, and with the addition of attacker Victor Muñoz, they went on to win all 25 games in the season, scoring 164 goals and conceding just 14, cementing their status as one of the most gifted teams at La Masia.
This season, they also competed in the very prestigious MIC International Cup in Costa Brava. Xavi Simons was deservedly awarded the MVP award but both Xavi and Alevin A had to leave with a bitter taste in their mouths after an undeserved defeat against Real Madrid in the final. Xavi Simons did his best, including a beautiful scooped pass, Laudrup-style, to Pau Martinez who was unable to finish. Barça TV’s Jaume Marcet described 12-year-old Xavi as “a spectacle”. Xavi himself said this after the final: “We played well and had many touches on the ball, but it didn’t want to go in. We were the best team and we played better than them. Bad luck. I was nervous before the game but when I got the ball, I wasn’t anymore. I want to thank the team for giving all they had”. That doesn’t sound like a 12-year-old to me.
A Dutch site called him “Barcelona’s golden curls” in an article and with so many titles won already - and one hell of a haircut - that’s a pretty fitting nickname.
The future looks bright for Barcelona, especially with talents like Xavi Simons, and who knows? Maybe in 10 years’ time, Xavi Simons will be coached by the man he was named after, taking his spot on the first team. You just couldn’t make that up. And even if that scenario won’t prove to be true, Xavi Simons still has all the ingredients to make it. He was born to play for Barça.
You can watch the highlights of this bright young talent here.
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