Xavi Simons: The Dutch soccer prodigy with two million Instagram followers

PSG's Xavi Simons (right) in action during the Under-19 match between Paris Saint Germain and Amiens on September 8, 2019 in Paris, France.

(CNN)He's only 16, but already plays for one of the world's biggest soccer clubs and has more than two million followers on social media.

His name: Xavi Simons.
Even in a sport that is littered with scores of promising teen prodigies and even more broken dreams, the young Paris Saint-Germain midfielder stands out.
The young Dutchman, a former captain of a number of Barcelona youth teams, is a four-time winner of the youth Ballon d'Or award. He has 2.1 million followers on his Instagram account alone, and has already landed a sponsorship contract with Nike.

    Barcelona youth academy

    Born in Amsterdam in 2003, Simons moved to a small village near Alicante in Spain with his family when he was three years old. Named after Spain and FC Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez by his father, former Dutch soccer pro Regillio Simons, it was no surprise he took up the sport at an early age.
    Xavi Simons turned out to be so gifted, he joined the famous youth academy of FC Barcelona when he was just seven.
    An eight-year-old Xavi Simons (right) celebrates a goal with a teammate during a 2011 match for FC Barcelona's youth team.
    "My father has always been an example for me," Simons told Dutch state broadcaster NOS in a rare interview last month. "My father knows everything about football."
    When asked by the interviewer when his father, a youth trainer who played for Dutch clubs including Fortuna Sittard and NAC Breda, realized his son was so talented, Simons said: "I don't know, because he has never said that to me ... He can be critical of me, because he is also a football coach, he always tells me the truth."

    Shock PSG move

    In July, Simons stunned Barcelona fans when he announced he would be leaving the Spanish club to play for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after signing a three-year professional contract.
    Simons' departure from Barcelona after almost a decade at the legendary club came as a shock for a lot of fans. "PSG sign Xavi Simons, the jewel of Barcelona's academy," headlined Spanish newspaper Marca.
    "I leave a part of me in Barcelona and I will bring a part of Barcelona with me," Simons said in a post on social media about his departure.
    Simons now plays for PSG's Under-19 squad, and occasionally trains with the first team.

    Social media

    Although Simons is only 16 and just starting his pro career, he has already made a huge impact on social media.
    Regular Instagram posts show him training, playing matches or hanging out with his team mates and friends.
    It also features snap shots of Simons with star athletes including Dutch Formula One racing driver Max Verstappen and Brazilian soccer star Neymar, who left five-time Champions League champion Barcelona for PSG for a world record fee of €222 million ($245 million) two years ago.
    "The brand association, the brand identity of having been with Barcelona, it's an instant credibility, an instant street value with all those followers," Alan Seymour, a British university lecturer and digital sports marketing consultant, said in a phone interview.
    Xavi Simons is pictured playing for Paris Saint-Germain and Bruges at Camp des Loges on November 6, 2019 in Paris, France.

    How good is he?

    It isn't easy breaking through to the first team at elite European clubs -- just ask Martin Odegaard. In 2015 the Norwegian became Real Madrid's youngest player just five months and six days after his 16th birthday. But Odegaard's career stalled at the Bernabeu and he is currently on loan at Real Sociedad.
    All of this begs the question: just how good is Xavi Quentin Shay Simons?
    "Is he a miracle child?," Orlando Engelaar, Simons' former business manager, told FOX Sports in the Netherlands in November 2018.
    "He is really good, but his popularity is also due to the fact he is with Barcelona and his social media ... He is in the spotlight," said Engelaar, a former FC Twente player.