Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has announced that the Catalan club plan to play a friendly in India within the next three years as they continue to look for new ways to grow their global brand.
Outside of Spain, the club now has offices in both Hong Kong and the United States and they also boast over 20 football schools spread across the world, including two in Mumbai and Delhi.
However, the Blaugrana are looking to add to that number, while they’re also keen to find other ways to increase their popularity in Asia and beyond.
“There is a lot to promote in other countries,” Bartomeu said in an interview with The Hindu.
“We want to get closer to our fans in India. I know cricket is the popular sport, but I also know many people follow Barcelona.
“We want to come to India to teach young people the concept of FC Barcelona.
“The objective is to make them capable of playing in the local leagues. Not only that, we would like to teach young coaches also. We are also in the process of opening more Barcelona football schools in India.
“One of our objectives is to come to India with our first team. Now the dates are very tight. The season ends late and starts early.
“I am sure we will come to India in the next two to three years. Our board is seriously thinking about it.”
Speaking about La Masia, Bartomeu explained that he still has faith in the club’s famous academy, which costs around €20 million a year to run.
The lack of players progressing into the first team during recent seasons has slowed down, but the era of Carles Puyols, Xavis, Andres Iniestas and Lionel Messis was always unlikely to be repeated.
Bartomeu claims the idea is still to have 11 players from the academy in the starting lineup — despite making headline signings in the form of Neymar and Luis Suarez in the last three years — and predicts that there are “three players who can make it to the first team in the near future.”