Xavi Simons is 12 years old and in demand, with Chelsea among those who would dearly love to take him away from Barcelona.
The London club have been on his trail for months, but interest in Simons has increased since his starring role in the prestigious La Liga Promises tournament, held last month in Miami.
This Under 12s competition has a reputation as the first reliable glimpse of the best emerging Spanish talent. Andres Iniesta was snapped up by Barcelona after impressing in it for Albacete.
Simons, a midfielder with a mature understanding of the game, an eye-catching shock of blond hair and football in his genes, has been on the radar for some time.
Chelsea made their first move in 2014, according to his father Regillio Simons, a former striker and coach in the Dutch Eredivisie, who now works in the Ajax academy and splits his time between Amsterdam and Barcelona.
‘Agents are everywhere,’ said Simons. ‘Even at a younger age they were starting to approach me making offers for Xavi, asking to be his agents, offering shoes and contracts and money like you can’t imagine.
‘That’s the world of football now. You cannot stop it. For many parents it must be difficult. It happens fast and if you are looking for money and clubs are offering it in large amounts, it makes sense to say yes.
‘We don’t need any of that just now. We are trying to keep them away, in a polite way.
‘Xavi’s development is the most important thing. We want him in the right surroundings. Even if we need to move, the development is important. Not the money.
‘We have spoken to Chelsea and you know it’s going to be good money at Chelsea.
‘Agents approach me to say they are working for English clubs or Spanish clubs. It can’t touch me. I’m not someone who will be starry-eyed.
‘Barcelona is already a big club and it brings him some kind of pressure and he is handling it well. That’s good for me.’
Xavi was born in Amsterdam and named after former Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez. He was three years old when his father’s playing career ended and the family moved to Alicante in Spain, where he was first spotted by Villarreal.
‘He joined the system at Villarreal,’ said Simons. ‘They were very happy with his progress and wanted him in the academy system but he was aged six and already playing with their U9s.
‘I thought it was too early for that. I didn’t want him playing in the U9s at six, so I said no. It was a week later when Barcelona called and wanted him to go for a trial.’
Xavi joined Barca’s famed La Masia academy at seven. Five years on, he and Hugo Alvarez of Celta Vigo, known as Huguito, are considered to be the outstanding talents of their age in Spain.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are reported to be tracking Huguito. Inevitably, so are Chelsea, via their Spanish scout Vicente Fernandez.
They are all hungry for the next big thing, and it could be Xavi Simons.
‘I try not to look on it as a coach,’ said Simons. ‘I want to be a dad. I try to watch in a superficial way: that’s a goal, that’s a good pass, but it’s hard.
‘When I look as a coach I think he has a lot of quality and if I listen to what people are saying to me he’s got the extra quality that makes him a special talent.
‘In defence he is very strong. In attack he is very strong. I don’t want to look too closely. I want to enjoy watching him play.’
His father’s experiences will help. ‘I had a good career,’ said Simons. ‘I can say I enjoyed it, but I could have got more out of it. I was injured and that’s one thing you know can happen in the future.
‘I know a lot things he will face. We are lucky. He has a very sober attitude. He comes home with the MVP trophy, but he doesn’t look at it. He is busy with other things, playing on his telephone.
‘When he plays, he looks professional. He’s a big guy, arranging things around him, but as soon as he’s off the pitch, he’s a kid.’

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