UEFA Euro 2024: The Netherlands' Xavi Simons' breakout summer in Germany has giants on alert

The Netherlands might be out of UEFA Euro 2024 after Wednesday’s semifinal defeat to England in Dortmund but Xavi Simons’ does not need an appearance in Sunday’s Berlin final to already be considered one of the standout young stars in Germany this summer. The 21-year-old was already making a name for himself after impressing in the UEFA Champions League with RB Leipzig this past season as part of a constructive loan spell from parent club Paris Saint-Germain and has now added a stunning semifinal strike to his burgeoning reputation.

With Bayern Munich among the big names monitoring Simons’ awkward situation regarding a return to the French capital, this summer could have a lucrative transfer at the end of it for the latest Dutch talent. Liverpool and the Netherlands’ Cody Gakpo has arguably been the main hero for Ronald Koeman’s side this summer after his three-goal campaign sat him at the table of the Euro scoring table along with Spain finalist Dani Olmo.

However, even before his goal-scoring performance vs. England, Simons was arguably of similar importance for Oranje in providing three assists over four games which included a pair in the round of 16 triumph over Romania and he also saw a goal of his own ruled out via VAR in a goalless Group D draw with France. A key figure under Koeman at such a young age, the Amsterdam-born former Barcelona youth academy talent was the crucial link between the Dutch midfield and attack in Germany.

Granted, the Netherlands’ route through the knockout phase was not as challenging as those faced on the other side of the draw after an unexpected third-place finish in the group behind Austria and Les Bleus. However, drawing Romania and Turkiye en route to the semifinals should not stop Simons from being recognized as a star performer across the entirety of Euro 2024 — even if it took his national team a while to get going.

Any deep run is the subject of luck when it comes to the draw and what might have happened elsewhere in the tournament and there has been nothing lucky about this rise to prominence. Currently owned by PSG after his loan spell with Red Bull-owned Leipzig, the German outfit are understandably keen to keep Simons on — permanently or temporarily — after excelling alongside the likes of Lois Openda as part of a fourth-place Bundesliga finish and Champions League qualification.

With 10 goals and 13 assists across all competitions including domestic and European action, it is no surprise that German giants Bayern are among the clubs taking notice of the Netherlands international shining in their backyard having stepped up from Eredivisie giants PSV Eindhoven before being bought back. Mainly deployed in attacking midfield at club level but more of a central midfield figure for the Dutch, Simons’ versatility and undeniable quality after years of being hyped at youth level in Catalonia and then again in Paris makes him a legitimate potential superstar.

Allied with a convincing Euro in Germany, it is no longer really a question of potential but a player already approaching the elite bracket which is why giants such as Bayern are in the hunt. Whatever happens next, wherever he is playing his club soccer next term, Simons is now well and truly on the radar as one of the leading members of the next generation of talent.

Although a different profile to Ronaldinho and Neymar who he was once billed to follow in the footsteps of while at Barca, the one constant in his career has been not following the conventional path — including being an Amsterdam-born talent yet not having featured for AFC Ajax. In a hurry with PSG, PSV and now Leipzig, this Euro has made it easier for everybody to see and understand why.

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