Are we about to get China’s equivalent of Lionel Messi?
Not satisfied with buying the Oscar’s and Carlos Tevez’s of the world, China are seemingly vying for complete footballing supremacy with plans to build a Barcelona-style football academy for kids.
China’s President Xi Jinping has vowed to create 50,000 football schools by 2025 in a bid to revolutionise China’s national game, which currently ranks a dismal 86th in the FIFA world rankings, below the likes of Armenia and Qatar.
Their plans include building a youth training centre modelled on Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, renowned for developing players like Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
According to China Daily, the $8.5million project will be built on the tropical island of Hainan in the South China Sea, and will have seven pitches and accommodation for 1,000 children aged 6 to 18.
It’ll even have Barca’s former Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldinho as part of the teaching staff.
Speaking to the Hainan Daily, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said he hoped China’s answer to La Masia would boost its campaign to become “a football powerhouse” by spawning a new generation of Chinese superstars.
“More and more European players have come to play in the Chinese Super League, but by improving youth training, hopefully we can have more homegrown talent playing in the Super League and even European leagues,” Bartomeu said.
“I’m sure we will see a graduate from our Hainan academy playing for Barcelona in the future.”
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