Espanyol target China with Wu Lei signing and soccer school expansion

April 1 – Espanyol Barcelona have signed a strategic partnership with Chinese football school San Gao FC, expanding their operations in China. Atletico Madrid and the DFL also have plans to tap into the Chinese market. 

The Barcelona-based club already has schools in Shanghai, Shandong and Hunan and in January they signed Chinese international Wu Lei.  With the move Espanyol want to develop their brand in China by offering elite training methods in the school. Yeray Rodriguez will take charge of the football operations. Rodriguez held a similar role with the club in the United Arab Emirates.

San Gao is one of China’s leading football academies with 4,000 students enrolled. This fourth partnership seeks in part to build on the winter signing of Lei from Shanghai SIPG. At the weekend he came on as a substitute in the Barcelona derby as Lionel Messi sank Espanyol with a brace. His debut, a 12-minute cameo against Villareal, generated huge interest in his homeland with viewing figures hitting a reported 40 million. This summer Espanyol are expected to embark on a lucrative pre-season tour of China.

Atletico Madrid has also shown ambition for the Chinese market, having announced that they will open offices in Beijing and Chengdu and partner with Wanda Sports to promote the development of Chinese football. The two offices mark Atletico Madrid’s first overseas outposts.

“We want to promote the development of the club in Asia and enhance its influence,” said Atletico Madrid CEO Miguel Marin. “Meanwhile, we’d like to help Asian brands in global expansion with our solid brand image in Europe and Americas. Also we want to make contributions to the development of Chinese football.”

Similarly the DFL, the German Football Liga, has also opened an office in Beijing to promote German football in China. In April the DFL will organize a ‘Bundesliga Legends Tour’ with Jurgen Klinsmann. Patrick Huber, with the DFL since 2007, will head the office. The new office is the latest addition to the DFL’s global network with operations in Singapore, New York and a partnership with IMG Reliance in India.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1594280339labto1594280339ofdlr1594280339owedi1594280339sni@o1594280339fni1594280339


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