India’s efforts at bringing its football to the global level received a great encouragement from the former Spanish World Cupper and Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro, who felt that Indian football will see exponential growth in future.

“India as a country has great potential and I think it will have the biggest growth in football in future. I can tell it from my experience of visiting India so time back,” Hierro, who is one of the brand ambassadors of the Spanish top league, La Liga, said during a media interaction.

“The sport will further grow depending on the objectives and planning laid out for the tournament. I think training of the coaches is very important for the growth and the tournament needs to have a consolidated structure and proper vision for the future. I have colleagues who are working in India and there are players in India whom I have known for a long time. I think the growth of football reflects the global growth of India, which is a big country,” the player who turned out in four World Cups for Spain, said about the development happening around ISL.

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Moving back to the tournament of his own country, Hierro said that La Liga is turning a new page of development after introducing effective financial control for the clubs. “I think the huge gap that existed between the teams have narrowed down a lot. The financial control implemented by La Liga in the recent times did help the comparatively smaller sides improve their positions. You can make that out from the fact that the so called big sides are often seen losing or drawing with smaller sides and the huge margin of wins managed by the giants have also come down,” he said.

“I think there is more economic equality because of effective financial control and that has seen a lot of improvement in our football. The different projects that are being carved out for the smaller teams are really appreciable,” he added.

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Hierro also appreciated the emergence of new talents that are ending the “dictatorship” of (Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo in la Liga. “The best thing about La Liga is the quality of the players, especially the young players, the academy graduates and overall the competitive level of the tournament. What surprises me is the number of young players and how supportive the clubs are about them.” He said.

When the questions veered towards the future of La Liga’s greatest asset Messi, Hierro said a tournament like the La Liga does not depend on individuals. “You 2.8 billion people watched La Liga Last year so it is really a tournament to watch out for. Unfortunately Neymar left and Cristiano Ronaldo left but La Liga still maintained itself. Messi came here as a young Argentine player and ruled it for over a decade. But I feel La Liga with its huge television audience, El Classicos, its future plans and for its sheer competitiveness is fortunately much above single players.  It has reached the position of a world-wide spectacle now,” was how Hierro put it in perspective.

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When it came to Messi’s future in Barcelona, Hierro said the player’s future depends on the election of the new chairman. “All the clubs in the world go through the process of rebuilding themselves.  Barcelona now has the elections for a new chairman and these factors always influence the sport. Messi wanted to leave this year but his future in Barcelona certainly depends on who the new chairman will be and the projects that the club prepares for the future,” he said.

Talking about the upcoming Champions League clash between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, Hierro said both the opponents are great but Barcelona is facing more challenges. “These are two great teams. But unfortunately for Barcelona, Pique and Ansu Fati are injured but the team definitely has got a lot of talented players. Again there are some recent incidents that are not helping the club. But despite all that Barcelona could well become the champion,” Hierro said.