Xavi Simons Could Be The Key Piece For RB Leipzig’s Title Challenge

You would have done well if you had selected Xavi Simons for your Bundesliga Fantasy team ahead of matchday 4. The 20-year-old Dutch midfielder scored the opener and assisted his teammate Loïs Openda for the second goal in RB Leipzig’s 3-0 victory over Augsburg on Saturday.

David Raum would later cap up a perfect Leipzig performance when he scored the third goal for his club. But all the talk was about Xavi. Signed on loan from Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the season, the midfielder has now scored three goals and four assists in four games to start the Bundesliga campaign.

“I enjoy working with the boys and the staff every day, and after just a short time, I feel very much at home here,” Xavi said after the game. “That’s the most important part because I had little time to adjust. But I feel good, and I know what I can do.”

The transition from PSV Eindhoven to the Bundesliga has been indeed impressive. Xavi spent the last season with the Dutch side, who had signed the playmaker from PSG on a free transfer. The Parisians then activated a €4 million ($4.3 million) buy-back clause this summer, but rather than keeping him with the Ligue 1 side, PSG opted to loan him to Leipzig instead.

That move is already looking like a win-win situation for all sides involved. After losing Dominik Szoboszlai, Christopher Nkunku, Konrad Laimer, and Josko Gvardiol, sporting director Max Eberl was looking for several cheaper alternatives to not just provide quality but also depth to a Leipzig side wanting to challenge for the title.

The calculation with Xavi was simple. At worst, he would be a depth piece like Fabio Carvalho, who joined on loan from Liverpool. At best, Xavi could be a quality piece helping Leipzig to seriously challenge Bayern Munich for the title. After four matchdays, the second scenario seems more likely.

“We have seen the result between Bayern and Bayer Leverkusen,” Xavi said when asked about Leipzig’s ambitions this season. “But at the end of the day, it is important that we perform. We must take it step by step.”

Xavi has undoubtedly led the way over the first four matchdays. With seven scorer points (three goals and four assists), Xavi is second only to Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy (eight goals).

According to Bundesliga.com, Xavi is third in shot efficiency, a model put together by AWS that cumulates xGoal values of all shots on goal with the actual shots scored. A positive value means a player scored more goals than the model predicted. Xavi’s shot efficiency is +2.4; only Union Berlin’s Robin Gosens (+2.5) and Guirassy (+4) have been more efficient.

Xavi’s shot is an incredible weapon. You want an example? Just look at the goal he scored against Union Berlin on matchday 3. But Xavi also works incredibly hard and ranks 11th among all Bundesliga players with 290 intensive runs.

Indeed, Xavi is both a creative and dynamic player. Explosive on his feet, the Dutchman seems to find space and explore it quickly at a moment’s notice. There is also a robustness to his game; Xavi is willing to go into areas that hurt and has demonstrated a fearlessness that isn’t necessarily common among creative players. Add a dangerous shot to the mix, and you have an almost complete player.

With all that in mind, Xavi will undoubtedly be a key player for Marco Rose’s side that increasingly looks like a title challenger. Sadly, for Leipzig, Xavi’s actions will also be closely monitored in Paris, and it is increasingly unlikely that the Dutchman will be in the Bundesliga beyond this season.

Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth and on Threads: @manuveth

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