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When you happen to have a father who was a great footballer himself, the comparisons tend to surface more often than not for one’s liking. Even more so, if that father happens to be a certain Diego ‘Cholo’ Simeone. A famous surname tends more often to not be a boon in football. Giovanni Simeone however seems to be on the right path however as he has made a steady and commendable rise in football. Having moved to Genoa this year from River Plate, Simeone Jr could finally showcase his talent to the European audience as he seeks to be an equally good footballer as his father once was.
Who is Giovanni Simeone?
Born to Diego Simeone and Carolina Baldini in Madrid when El Cholo was playing for Atletico, Giovanni is the eldest son of Diego Simeone. His childhood years saw him move to Italy and back to Spain, due to his father’s club transfers. He soon joined the River Plate youth system when his father was managing the club in 2008. His rise up the youth ranks was steady as he signed a professional contract in 2011. He was called up in July 2013 to the senior squad for their pre-season. He did not feature too heavily in the first team though as his opportunities were limited due to his age.
His shot to fame was the South American Youth Football Championship in 2015. Argentina were the winners with Simeone finishing with 9 goals in 9 matches as the top scorer of the tournament. His incredible performance got him a loan move to Banfield, with River not able to afford him first team opportunities. Not wanting to see his talent stagnate they sent him on loan to the fellow Argentine first division side. He made 34 appearances that season for the club and bagged 12 goals. This was enough to warrant a move to Genoa at the start of this season with a host of other clubs interested too at that point of time.
Simeone had to be patient for his chance at the club with Leonardo Pavoletti, the first choice striker, enjoying a great start to the season. However an injury to Pavoletti and his subsequent move to Napoli now made way for Giovanni to get his first team opportunities.
What is his style of play?
Unlike his father, Giovanni is a forward who loves to get into the box rather than stay back and marshal his team’s midfield like his old man. He has this knack of being in the right place at the right time. A very direct player who often looks to go forward, Simeone is an excellent header of the ball. One of the aspects he has inherited from his father is the determination and the work ethic to compete in a match. He puts in a solid shift each match with very commendable defensive contribution.
‘Cholito’ as he is nicknamed, does not give defenders a moment of peace as he hassles them into rushing a pass or steals the ball off them. Most of the goals he has scored have been from inside the box and he displays excellent determination to always go for the ball. Despite not being blessed with much flair, Simeone Jr can take on defenders and beat them with a sudden change of pace or close control. Playing up top as a striker, he chases any long ball down the channels and goes for the ball, even if it might be for a lost cause.
What are his strengths?
As mentioned, Simeone is noted for his predatory finishing skills. Genoa’s 3-1 win over Juventus earlier this season propelled Simeone to the front pages as he repeated the trick by scoring against Juventus just like his father did almost 16 years back. Having already grabbed a decent total of 10 goals in the Serie A this season, Simeone will be looking to add more to this. His greatest strength would be his finishing, especially inside the box. His direct nature combined with his instincts and anticipation make him a really god poacher. These strengths of his should not mislead into one thinking that he is a just an 18 yard box merchant as he is very good with the ball in his feet.
His work rate on and off the ball is brilliant. His runs down the channels often unsettle defenses. He can play for a variety of tactical set ups as he is a tremendous worker off the ball so that he can pressurize the opposition’s first line of build-up. He can also work to unsettle the opposition defense if they are camped against his team. His off the ball movement is fantastic with his runs down the channel highlight his intelligence. He makes runs behind the defenders and offers options to his team mates the back for a direct approach.
His heading of the ball is outstanding and offers a huge threat not only from crosses during open play but also in set pieces. He has a good leap but the most noteworthy aspect is his control over his heading abilities. His accuracy when it comes to heading is really good and has scored a number of goals for club and country in that fashion.
What are his weaknesses?
Simeone should definitely improve on his passing and decision making abilities. These qualities develop with time and exposure but having already turned 21, Cholito must strive further if he wants to achieve greatness. With match time bound to be more in the coming days, he should improve on his consistency. Of his ten starts in Serie A this season, he has scored three braces while drawing a blank in five matches. While this is not necessarily a bad return, a consistent goal scoring run would do his confidence even more good. While he does tremendously well winning the ball back for his team higher up the pitch, it would be more productive if his decision making in those moments improved. Better decisions and passing in those circumstances can help his team make use of those quick turnovers better.
Giovanni Simeone is on the right track as he seems to be developing as time wears on. Playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues and also in a club which can offer him regular game time, he can set his sights on improving as a footballer and establish himself as a regular for his club. While a place in the National set up looks a bit improbable now with the likes of Messi, Aguero, Higuain and Dybala, who is not that old himself, involved in the mix, Giovanni must bide his time for National team opportunities. He has the drive and hunger to improve his game continually which is one of the most important things for a lad his age. This will surely send him to greater heights and who knows, one day he might be bought by his father for a club he manages or play under him for a club. The prospect seems romantic, but right now Simeone Jr must stay focused and continue improving.