One of the hottest striking properties in Italy, Giovanni Simeone, is finding out that a famous football father is not the curse it can sometimes be
There are advantages and disadvantages to being the son of such a high-profile Argentine icon like Diego Simeone. On the one hand, the young player can learn from the experience and wisdom of his father. On the other, they can be crushed under the weight of expectation.
Giovanni Simeone is a very different player than the aggressive, all-action midfielder El Cholo was, but after initially being labeled restrictively as little more than ‘the son of Diego Simeone’, young Gio is now forcing people to take notice based on the merits of his goal-scoring exploits in Serie A.
The 21-year-old was expected to take a little time to make the significant step up from the Argentine Primera to one of Europe’s top leagues but has instead struck an impressive eleven goals from 21 appearances for Genoa.
Simeone’s predatory reactions in the penalty area have made him the third-youngest player to have scored ten or more goals this season across Europe’s top five leagues behind only Dele Alli and Timo Werner, so it is clear why after only six months with Il Grifone, rivals are queuing up for his signature.
Presumably to maximise potential future profits Genoa completed their purchase of Simeone last week paying River Plate €2.1 million for the remaining 35% having parted with a bargain €3 million in August.
However, this came amid rumours of a €20 million bid from Villarreal, interest from Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla and most recently an agreement to join AC Milan in the summer.
All have been rejected or dismissed as tabloid gossip but Simeone’s rapid development has attracted interest.
Certainly his goal frequency in Italy looks mightily impressive when compared to his time on loan with Banfield, where Simeone scored 12 goals in 36, and for River Plate, where the teenager mustered only 4 in 34 but these statistics fail to paint the full picture.
Chances to break into the first eleven at a huge club like River are difficult for any young player, barring only the most prodigious of talents, and so Simeone had to make do with fleeting substitute appearances on the whole but there was no denying his value at the club.
Giovanni had been a prolific goal scorer throughout the club’s youth divisions and when signing his first professional contract had the hefty release clause to match but it was on loan at Banfield, when Simeone got regular playing time under Matias Almeyda that the potential really began to shine through.
El Taladro were woefully inconsistent and yet Simeone’s quality was clear not only in his goal scoring but his ability to drift out wide, drop deep and integrate into play.
However, it was perhaps in an Argentina shirt that Simeone really made scouts pay attention as his goals fired La Albiceleste to the 2015 South American Championships.
Supplied by arguably the more naturally gifted Angel Correa and Cristian Espinoza, Simeone provided Argentina with the ruthlessness in front of goal that was missing and that he has gone on to show in Serie A.
Finishing the tournament as leading scorer was a landmark in Simeone’s early career but one that deserved a degree of caution.
One only needs to look at the previous winners to see the potential but also the level of development needed – for every Neymar or Edinson Cavani, there is a Hugo Rodellega or Abel Hernández.
Six excellent months in Serie A don’t answer this question yet but at every stage of his career so far Simeone has not been found wanting.
Still a raw talent, but if Simeone ends the season as he has started, another test will undoubtedly lie await and we could see Giovanni Simone – Argentina number nine with no need to qualify that with mention of El Cholo.