Xavi Simons was filmed cleaning boots at PSV Eindhoven’s training ground this week, with one teammate saying it was done to “keep his feet on the ground”.
The highly rated 19-year-old midfielder, who made a surprise move to PSV from Paris Saint-Germain in June, has scored ten goals in 24 matches for club and national team this season.
He even earned a call-up to Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands World Cup squad after a good first half of the domestic season.
But his Eindhoven teammates want to keep him as he continues to impress in his debut season in the Eredivisie.
Noni Madueke, another of PSV’s top youngsters, posted a video of Simons cleaning his boots. “I need to make sure our young superstar stays grounded,” he wrote in his Instagram story.
Simons was thrown into the spotlight at a young age. He graduated from La Masia academy and was hailed as Barcelona’s next big star after impressing his youth teams.
Simons made six Ligue 1 appearances for PSG last season and many expected his long-term future to be tied to the French side.
Instead, he turned down a long contract at Parc des Princes to sign a five-year contract with PSV.
PSV manager Ruud van Nistelrooy played a big role in his move. “We have a very good connection, that’s very important to me,” he told ESPN.
“He explained very well how he wants to work with the team and with me. As for me, I prefer to play as an attacking midfielder or a central midfielder. Let me run, score and assist.”
After scoring on his debut against Ajax in the Dutch Super Cup, Simons soon became the Eredivisie top scorer after scoring six goals in his first four games for the club.
“I think I made the right decision by going to PSV. I’m very happy, I think it shows,” he said in the post-match interview.
He has been promised regular first-team play at Philips Stadion and has been developing since joining last summer.
In October, the teenager gave a fascinating insight into the difference between Barcelona and PSG training after PSV’s Europa League victory against Arsenal.
“Believe me, in Barcelona they don’t do much work in the gym. They work with the ball, but not in the gym,” said Simons. ESPN.
“When I arrived at Paris Saint-Germain, I found differences. At PSG, they worked in the gym.”
Simons added: “You have a completely different life in Paris. Ligue 1 is a physically strong competition. Then you have to protect yourself and that was one of my goals.
“Being small doesn’t matter, being strong [does]. I was sixteen when I came to PSG. With all these guys, you’ll notice the difference early on. I train hard and give my best. Football is my life.”