Xavi Simons only turned 17 in April, but the teenager has been making headlines for several years now.
The teenager was regarded as one of the most talented youngsters at Barcelona after joining the Catalan club’s famous academy in 2010.
Coaches at Camp Nou had high hopes for the Dutch starlet, but in 2019 he made the controversial decision to join Paris Saint-Germain after failing to agree terms on a new contract with Barça.
Fast-forward a year and Simons, aged 17 and three months, made his professional debut for PSG in a friendly against Sochaux on Wednesday evening.
The teenager entered the fray in the 74th minute, coming on for Julian Draxler at the Parc des Princes.
He showed flashes of his talent during his cameo appearances and even found himself on set-piece duty, taking a corner towards the end of the match.
But in truth, he didn’t do an awful lot. This was simply an opportunity for Thomas Tuchel to give the youngster his first taste of senior football.
Watch his highlights here…
Keen to find out more about the talented PSG starlet? Here are 12 things you might not know…
1. His dad was a footballer
Simons’ father is Regillio Simons, a former striker who played for Fortuna Sittard, NAC Breda and Den Haag.
The 47-year-old has worked as a coach since 2005 and no doubt passed on a few handy tips to his boy.
2. He already has 2.4 million Instagram followers
Not many teenage footballers with one senior appearance under their belt can say they have over a million followers on Instagram, let alone a whopping 2.4 million.
When he was 13 years old, he had 300,000 followers because football fans had already heard about his huge potential. Madness.
3. He was named after Xavi
Simons’ dad is a Barcelona fan and decided to name his son after Xavi, the Camp Nou legend, back in 2003.
4. Xavi is Simons’ idol
If you’re named after a certain footballer, you’re bound to have a soft spot for them.
Simons met Xavi before the legendary midfielder left Barcelona to join Al Sadd.
“I was with the physio when Xavi came over,” Simons said in 2017. “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.”
5. Chelsea and Real Madrid wanted him
Both Chelsea and Real Madrid were sniffing around Simons when he was just 12 years old.
Europe's top clubs knew the lad was a huge prospect from very early on.
6. He prefers providing assists over scoring goals
Simons has always been a proper team player. Like Xavi, he prefers to set up his teammates rather than go for glory himself.
"I prefer to assist than to score. For me, assists are the most important," Simons told freestyle footballer Soufiane Touzani in 2017.
"When I score, I am happy, but if a team-mate scores I am also happy. So I prefer to assist because it's good for the team."
7. He won the Youth Ballon d’Or award four times
Apparently the Youth Ballon d’Or is a thing. Simons won it four times, according to The Sun.
Will he land his hands on the main award one day?
8. His youth teams dominated
Simons was part of a Barcelona youth team that won all 25 games during the 2016-17 season, scoring 164 goals and conceding just 14.
The youngster, nicknamed ‘Golden Curls’, was handed the Most Valuable Player award.
9. He has a sponsorship deal with Nike
Nike clearly believe the youngster has a massive future ahead of him because they struck a sponsorship deal with the Netherlands Under-17 international when he was a little younger.
10. His agent is Mino Raiola
Mino Raiola, the infamous super-agent, played down suggestions that he was looking to add Simons to his roster in 2017, telling reporters: "Xavi Simons is a great player, young, with potential and a big future. We're good friends. Am I his advisor? It's better to be a friend than an advisor, believe me. Honestly, I am friends with all the players that I represent."
But Simons did eventually become one of Raiola’s clients and then opted to leave Barcelona for PSG shortly afterwards.
111. He already earns a lot of money
In order to bring him to France, PSG offered a 16-year-old Simons a cool €1 million-a-year contract, which works out at just under €20,000 per week.
Barcelona were not prepared to break their wage structure in order to satisfy the demands of Simons and his agent, which allowed PSG to capitalise.
12. Neymar is one of his heroes
Simons met Neymar on several occasions when the Brazilian plied his trade at Camp Nou.
He said an emotional goodbye on Instagram after the world-class forward left Barcelona for PSG in 2017.
Little did they know that just three years later, they’d be in the same team together in Paris.
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