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Diego Simeone insists that he doesn’t talk much about football to his son. That might appear, on first impressions, to be a waste given the wisdom and experience the former midfielder and current Atletico Madrid manager has. However, it illustrates just how keen he is not to heap pressure on Giovanni Simeone. The 23-year-old striker is raising expectations all on his own, though.
A goal on his debut for Argentina against Guatemala on Saturday will do nothing to cool the hype that is starting to build around Simeone. Linked with both Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur in the summer window, the striker stayed with Fiorentina, where he has scored 15 goals in his first season last term, marking himself out as one of the brightest talents in the game.
At 23, Simeone has been something of a late developer. But then, so was Harry Kane, who was still on loan at Leicester City five years ago. Players grow and progress at different rates and the young Argentinean’s career is now following a sharp upwards trajectory. It could take him to the top, and not just because of his surname.
Simeone has all the makings of football’s next top striker. He has a natural instinct for being in the right place at the right time, for recognising where there is space to be exploited inside the penalty area. The 23-year-old is an exceptional header of the ball who can act as a targetman, but also contributes more than his fair share defensively, too. He might have inherited that from his father.
Top strikers don’t come along very often. They are a select group, with the current crop counting only a handful of stars – Edinson Cavani, Antoine Griezmann, Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski, Romelu Lukaku, Luis Suarez and maybe Cristiano Ronaldo if he can now be considered an out and out-and-out centre forward. It’s feasible that if he continues his current rate of progress, Simeone will join this sort of company.
Giovanni Simeone's game by numbers vs. Chievo:
82% pass accuracy
5 key passes
3/4 shots on target
2 tackles won
Defensive forward. 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/FU7zomq6dx
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 28, 2018
There are areas where the Argentinean can improve, most notably in his decision-making. This is what separates the best from the rest and too frequently Simeone allows the pressure of the situation to get to him. That should improve with time and experience, but some strikers never gain composure in their play. Simeone must find it.
There’s a certain romanticism to the notion of Simeone following in his father’s footsteps on his way to becoming a talent of the highest quality at the top of the sport. But while they share a surname and a bloodline, Giovanni has made it this far without too much of a helping hand from Diego. Simeone Jr is well on his way.