It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Far-Fetched Friday: Xavi Simons Wins Best Young Player at World Cup
With the World Cup only a few weeks away, it is time to make some bold predictions. I am here with my prediction for who I believe will win the Young Player of the Tournament, an award that often precedes a glamorous professional career, as won by the likes of Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller, Marc Overmars, and Pele. I am here to tell you that Xavi Simons is the next to win the FIFA World Cup Young Player of the Tournament.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at a forgotten youth prodigy.
The qualifications for the award are simple, be 21 years old or younger and play in the World Cup. Simons already has that first part covered, still only 19 despite seeming much older due to receiving world fame as a pre-teen soccer prodigy. The second part of the qualification is tricky, considering Simons has yet to play a game for the Dutch Senior National Team.
So, why do I think a player who has never played for the national team will not only get called up to the World Cup but also leave as the best young player in the tournament? The answer lies in the player we have seen Simons blossom into in the last three months.
Free from the shackles of Barcelona and PSG, Simons has taken the lessons learned from both clubs and is showing signs of living up to and even surpassing the hype of his youth. Through 11 games this year at PSV, Simons is second in the Eredivisie with eight goals despite playing in the midfield. It's the first year we've seen Simons receive consistent first-team minutes, and what a player he is. Just look at this goal he scored but unfortunately had disallowed against Arsenal.
I believe he's doing more than enough to earn a call-up for the World Cup, especially when you consider he brings something to the table that the country currently lacks from a midfield role. The Dutch have plenty of creative free flowing players in their front line, like Cody Gakpo, Noa Lang, Memphis Depay, and Steven Bergwijn. But when it comes to the midfield, particularly at the 10-role of an attacking midfielder, the Dutch do not have someone who naturally fits into the positions from a creative standpoint. And as the possession-heavy team they are under Louis van Gaal, they will predictably face stringent low blocks through the tournament. The kind of game where you'll need someone like Simons in that role to create a moment of brilliance.
But it's hard to tell a National team that has not lost in 15 games and across two years that they need to call up a 19-year-old that has yet to play for them and has less than 30 professional games under his belt. But if they do, Xavi Simons will be recognized as the best young player at the 2022 World Cup.
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