In Focus: Sensational Simons has World Cup spot in his sights
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Cian Cheesbrough
LiveScore
Xavi Simons is delivering on his promise since moving to PSV
Xavi Simons is delivering on his promise since moving to PSV

Xavi Simons has long been seen as one of football’s next stars — and he is living up to the hype with PSV.

The Dutch midfielder, 19, is in sensational form after leaving the bright lights of Paris Saint-Germain for his native country over the summer.

It has led to increased calls for the talented teen to earn a late call-up to the Netherlands squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

As Arsenal prepare to visit PSV in the Europa League tonight, we turn the spotlight on Simons' eye-catching start to the campaign. 

Long time coming

Simons’ breakthrough is no real surprise after he was picked out from an early age as one of the most promising prospects at Barcelona’s La Masia academy.

His distinctive curly hair, the fact he shares his name with one of the club’s legends and his tremendous talent meant that he was already a well-known name by the age of 14.

It is also why his decision to leave for Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 was such a shock in Catalonia, with the Ligue 1 side seemingly offering a quicker route to first-team football.

But having made just 11 PSG appearances in three years before departing this summer, Simons may look at the likes of Pedri and Gavi thriving at the Camp Nou and wonder what might have been.

Xavi Simons struggled to break into Paris Saint-Germain's first team
Xavi Simons struggled to break into Paris Saint-Germain's first team

Flourishing at home

Simons returned to his homeland in search of the minutes he craved and is reaping the rewards for that decision so far.

He has started all 11 games of the Eredivisie season so far for Ruud van Nistelrooy, who has decided to deploy him in the No10 role rather than as a central midfielder.

It looks like the correct call, with Simons scoring 10 times and providing three assists in all competitions this term — no teenager in Europe currently betters that tally of goal involvements.

Van Nistelrooy told Voetbal International: "He’s doing everything he can to get to the top, his top. And where that will be, that’s the beautiful challenge. 

"That bit in him, wanting to do everything for that, I recognise that from myself as a player. I can only enjoy that."

Beyond his years

The technically-gifted playmaker’s talents are there for all to see, with his tendency to drift between the lines and pick out a pass or go for goal making him hard to handle.

Featuring in a more advanced position looks to have unearthed his impressive ability to run directly at opponents, as well as his clinical finshing.

But according to the boss who is finally getting the best out of him, it is another trait that sets his No7 apart from other talents his age.

The 46-year-old added: "His mentality, his mindset, it’s unprecedented.

"It’s a boy of only nineteen, but Xavi is already much further advanced than his age.

"But he really is a pure professional, a boy who is working towards a goal, who wants to get the most out of his qualities."

Xavi Simons has operated in a more advanced midfield role for PSV
Xavi Simons has operated in a more advanced midfield role for PSV

Buy-back clause

If Simons continues to light up the Dutch top flight, there is every chance he could end up back at PSG.

Despite departing on a free transfer this summer, the French giants will reportedly have the option to re-sign Simons for between £8-10million at the end of the current campaign.

Simons admitted: "There’s a clause in my contract: if I want to go to PSG at the end of the season, I can do that for a certain amount.

"To be honest, it’s not in my head to leave PSV. I feel good here and I’ve just settled in. I think you can see that on the field."

The relatively small fee PSG would have to pay for one of Europe’s brightest compared to what their rivals would have to pay may be too good a deal for the Ligue 1 champions to turn down.

And linking up with ex-Barca stars Lionel Messi and Neymar, as well as Kylian Mbappe, in the French capital may also be a very tempting prospect for Simons himself.

Some are tipping Xavi Simons to sneak into the Netherlands' World Cup squad
Some are tipping Xavi Simons to sneak into the Netherlands' World Cup squad

World Cup prospects

Calls are increasing for Simons to be part of the Netherlands squad for the World Cup in Qatar this winter.

Though the PSV star is uncapped at senior level and only recently made his debut for the Oranje’s Under-21s, he was recently named in Louis van Gaal’s preliminary squad for the showpiece tournament.

With that list of 39 to be whittled down to 26, Simons still has plenty of work to do to secure his place.

With Premier League leaders Arsenal visiting tonight, a good performance could keep Simons at the forefront of the conversation as the tournament edges closer.

Tags

PSV EindhovenEredivisieWorld CupNetherlands
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