Xavi Simons – Scout report 22/23

PSV Eindhoven’s midfielder Xavi Simons and Ajax Amsterdam’s Dutch goalkeeper Jay Gorter fight for the ball during the 26th Johan Cruijff Shield match between PSV Eindhoven and Ajax Amsterdam during the Dutch Super Cup at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, on July 30, 2022. – – Netherlands OUT (Photo by Vincent Jannink / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT (Photo by VINCENT JANNINK/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

We have played 10 games in the Dutch Eredivisie in the 2022/2023 season. Perhaps it’s too early to talk about crucial performances and measuring quality depending on this season alone, but we can look closer to some players and how their first impression is in this season. One of the players I was anxious and excited to see, was Xavi Simons at PSV.

Under Ruud van Nistelrooij, Xavi Simons has been instrumental in their success in attack as well as providing creativity in the opposition’s half. It has been 10 games in the season, but next to the wonderful Gakpo, Simons has played a huge part in how PSV conduct their attacks.

We will use data and video to illustrate how Simons has done in the Eredivisie 2022/2023 so far and we will focus on the attacking positions.

Contents

  1. Biography
  2. Seasonal stats
  3. Ball progression
  4. Key passing
  5. Shooting
  6. Assists
  7. Final thoughts

Biography

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS – SEPTEMBER 08: Xavi Simons of PSV Eindhoven in action during the UEFA Europa League group A match between PSV Eindhoven and FK Bodo/Glimt at Phillips Stadium on September 08, 2022 in Eindhoven, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
  • Name: Xavi Simons
  • Date of birth: 21–04–2003
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Position: Attacking midfielders
  • Contract expires: 30–6–2027
  • Current club: PSV
  • Previous clubs: Barcelona (Y), PSG (Y), PSG
  • International: Netherlands U21 (2 games)

Xavi Simons is a wildly interesting player for PSV. Characterised as an midfielder with good on the ball abilities in passing and carrying, the young Dutch player also plays in the number 10 role or as a winger. Yesterday in the game against Arsenal we even saw him briefly as a striker. To make a long story short, he is a versatile attacking talent and is taking the Eredivisie by storm.

Seasonal stats

In the pizzaplot above you can see how Xavi Simons is performing against all midfielders in the 2022/2023 Eredivisie so far. This pizzaplot doesn’t give us a definitive judgment on how he performs, but gives us a stylistic overview of his data profile.

We will go into details for the specific stats later for the absolute data, but in this part, we will look at how well he is doing in certain metrics and what that tells us about his playing style.

What we immediately see is that he scores really high in the attacking metrics, especially on goals (99th percentile), xG (99th percentile), assists (94th percentile), and progressive runs (91st percentile). This tells us that he is very attacking-minded for a midfielder.

When we look closer to what he can do when we look at the more attacking profiles compared to wingers, attacking midfielders and strikers – we can see some interesting stuff there too.

When we look at this comparison we can still see how high Simons scores in goals per 90 (93rd percentile), xG per 90 (91st percentile) and in shots per 90 (86th percentile). This indicates that his participation and style in attacking, is quite present in the attacking phase of the game.

Ball progression

The modern attacker isn’t only concerned with dribbling and crosses — but he/she also needs to be comfortable on the ball and progress play from it.

In the scatterplot above you can see the progressive metrics of progressive passes per 90 and progressive runs per 90. Simons does quite well here as he scores jjust above average in the progressive passes metric, and quite comfortably above average in the progressive runs metric. There are a few players better in progressing the ball, so he isn’t elite in this regard.

Dribbling

Dribbling

So how decent is he with the ball on his feet and going into the 1v1s? In other words, how many dribbles does he have per 90 minutes and what is his success rate?

If you look at the graph above you can see that he 4,75 dribbles per 90 in the Eredivisie so far, in which he scores above the average. When we look at the successful dribbles going with that number of dribbles, he has 50,78% – which is above average, but he doesn’t excel in it.

Xavi Simons is decent at dribbling, but how does he do that? You can see that in the video below.

Key passing

Every player makes passes in a game, but which passes actively contribute to the progression and construction of an attack? You can see some of these metrics in the beeswarmplot below.

As you can see in the graph above, Simons scores in the average to high average in almost every metric. There is not one significant metric where he doesn’t score as well. However, he scores excellent in the assists per 90 metrics.

As you can see in the heat map of passes above, Simons does the majority of his passes on the edge of the attacking third and in the middle third. As we see here is that he passes the ball overwhelmingly in the central areas and zone 14, so he also can go to the right and left – as he floats throughout the final third.

What’s interesting is how he makes key passes. He scores in the high average, but the intent of his through passes does tell a lot about how he can help in an attack.

Shooting

Simons does often come in the position to shoot, but how does he do in the quality of shooting?

In the shot map above you can see where Simons has conducted his shots in the 2022/2023 Eredivisie season so far. He had 25 shots of which 7 went in goal. 88% of his shots were on target and he generated a total xG of 4,43 — the latter meaning that he is overperforming with +2,57.

Apart from shooting in the box, he loves to shoot from just outside the penalty area – on the edge of it. It indicates that he loves to come into zone 14 and execute shots from there.


Assists

Not only did he score a lot in the Eredivisie, but he also provided 3 assists during the season. In the video below you can see his assists during the season in all competitions.

Final thoughts

It was quite a surprise that Xavi Simons made the move to PSV from PSG and it wasn’t on loan. For many people, he was the academy player that hadn’t shown his quality yet for the senior sides. I think it’s fair to say that he has made an impact with PSV in the Eredivisie so far.

It’s very early in the season, but it looks like Xavi Simons can lead an attacking formation next to Gakpo and have a meaningful goal contribution in doing so. He will be one of the best players in the league soon and perhaps his path in Europe’s elite will be open again.

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