Barcelona's director general hopeful of Messi playing in India before retirement

Asked about Barcelona’s prospects of playing in India, which is one of its strategic markets, the club official sounded positive.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi   -  Getty Images

India could be a part of FC Barcelona's future pre-season plans according to the club's Asia Pacific director general, Jordi Camps, and is optimistic of brining on board could its talisman Lionel Messi before he calls time on his glorious career.

He also said it’s a matter of time before an Indian plays in Spanish top-flight.

La Liga club Girona FC was in India this summer to play in an exhibition tournament in Kochi.

Asked about Barcelona’s prospects of playing in India, which is one of its strategic markets, the club official sounded positive.

“Of course as I said India is one of the top players in the markets and for sure our team in Barcelona and Hong Kong is working to have the opportunity or bring the opportunity to the India fans, to watch our players live and we are working on it,” Camps said.

He added, “I don’t know if it will happen the next year or the following year or the year after that but we will have them here for sure. We had the legends in India two months ago and we have the schools so little by little we are coming but I hope we have Messi here before he ends his career.”

'Legends' match

A team of the former stalwarts of Spanish giants FC Barcelona was in Kolkata in September to play a friendly ‘legends’ match against a combination of former players of Mohun Bagan.

Chants of ‘Barca, Barca’ were heard loud and clear from the stands of Salt Lake Stadium as the Barcelona greats stole the show in the exhibition game.

Aiming to tap the Indian market, Camps believed the Asian country will become one of the most important football destinations in the world in the near future.

Messi, previously, played in India with Argentina against Venezuela in an international friendly at the Salt Lake Stadium in 2011. PHOTO: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

 

“Football in India is growing like anything and of course cricket and other local sports are important but the work that ISL and the national team are doing, and with how they are treating the grassroots programmes and more, India will become one of the most important countries.

“That’s why we need to be here in advance and that’s why we launched our economies eight years ago so we are not new in the market and we are supporting the Indian football atmosphere, environment and industry to get to this target.”

Ramping up activities

Last month, top officials from 18 Spanish La Liga clubs got together in the capital, ramping up their activities in the country.

“Everything that we do we do for the international market and we have also chosen 10 strategic markets, one of which is India. Our main focus is the US and China but in the second tier is India.

“We are also the most admired and beloved global sports brand in the world and to get into the 1 billion viewers and India is going to be a very important part of it,” he said.

During last month’s meeting, dignitaries from renowned clubs such as Atletico de Madrid, Villareal, Valencia and Deportivo Alaves, among others, studied the Indian market and draw a future course of action for what is a potential market that needs to be tapped.

“In India there are many good talents so we compare India to other Asian markets and you realise in India they have talent of course, they don’t get the full football culture so it’s up to us to teach them, help them and develop this talent,” Camps said.

“We have cases like this when four years ago in Goa with a kid training at the Barca academy. He was very good and our dream is to have an Indian player someday (play in Spain), it’s going to happen, it’s matter of when and not how.”

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