EVERY football fan knows the name Xavi and holds it in high esteem at that.
The Spanish star, 37, is a once in a generation player with 767 appearances for Barcelona and 133 international caps.
On top of that, Xavi won eight La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, one World Cup and two European Championships.
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Simply put, Xavi – currently playing in Qatar – is a stunningly successful footballer.
However, there’s a new Xavi on the scene – literally – and guess what? He plays for Barcelona…
The name is Xavi Simons, a 13-year-old wonderkid currently captain of the La Masia Under-14s side.
However, this Xavi is not Spanish, but Dutch and is the son of former footballer Regillio Simons – who spent his entire career playing in the Netherlands.
Yet Regillio is a Barcelona fan and he and his wife Peggy named their son after their hero… Xavi.
At that stage, Xavi Hernandez was just 23, but already an established star in Spain and a hero in Barcelona.
Perhaps young Simons was destined for glory the day his name was chosen, but one thing is for sure, ‘the new Xavi’ is a seriously gifted footballer.
While he doesn’t necessarily play in the Xavi Hernandez mould, Simons is an aggressive midfielder with an intense mindset and a veteran footballer’s brain.
Barcelona immediately noticed the potential when they plucked him out of his first club – Club Deportivo Thader – and added him to their youth ranks… aged just seven.
Since joining Barca, Xavi Simons has proven to be hard-working, competitive and with a tireless engine, effective in both attack and defence.
He plays like a born leader and was immediately named the Under-14s captain.
Xavi’s enthuasiasm is infectious and his ability to control the tempo of play, while adding a dash of flair is as exciting as any youngster to ever kick a football.
Naturally young Simon’s idol is the ‘real’ Xavi – Hernandez – and the teenager himself recalled the day he got to meet the man himself.
He said: “I was with the physio when Xavi came over.
“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.”
That determination, passion and desire mixed with his obvious talent have not gone unnoticed though, with Chelsea interested since last summer, when he was just 12-years-old.
In fact, reports in Spain suggest the Blues were so impressed with the youngster, they offered his parents a mega-money deal to relocate to London.
Barcelona – not wanting to lose their brightest talent since Lionel Messi – convinced Regillio and Peggy that their boy has a bright future at the Nou Camp.
Simons’ parents rejected Chelsea’s offer, but they came back again in January… and are set to do so again this summer.
Talent is one thing, potential another, but winning? That’s an entirely different ball game.
So is Xavi Simons – dubbed ‘Golden Curls’ in Barcelona – a natural-born winner? You’d better believe it.
Since breaking into the Barca youth squad in 2010-11, he made an immediate impact, leading them to the league title at the first time of asking.
He then moved up to the Benjamin A team – again winning the league thanks to a thumping 6-0 victory on the final day of the season.
Another promotion – this time to the Alevin C side – saw the side utterly dominate and romp to yet another league title.
This season? 2016-17 has been something truly special, winning every, single game – all 25 of them – scoring 164 times and conceding just 14.
While it’s a team game, Xavi Simons was the stand-out star and was deservedly awarded the Most Valuable Player award.
Simply put, the ‘new Xavi’ may well have the potential to be better than the ‘original’.
Watch this space and most importantly, remember the name ‘Xavi Simons’…