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Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, and Barcelona's Andres Iniesta pose with the cup after winning the Copa del Rey final soccer match between Barcelona and Alaves at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday May 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
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FC Barcelona bringing U.S. academy to Arizona in Casa Grande

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, and Barcelona's Andres Iniesta pose with the cup after winning the Copa del Rey final soccer match between Barcelona and Alaves at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday May 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

PHOENIX — FC Barcelona, one of the best soccer clubs in the world, is bringing an academy to Arizona.

The Barca Academy is coming from the club and Grande Sports World, a residential academy located in Casa Grande, and will take place at their facilities. The program will be taking youth players from the ages of 12 to 19 and compete in the highest division of the US Soccer Development Academy’s youth football categories.

The club has several projects across the country, including in San Diego, Chicago and Charlotte.

FC Barcelona’s website describes the goal of the academy and their partner, Grande Sports World.

Aimed at children, the main objective of FC Barcelona’s model is the training and education of its students. This model, exported internationally, seeks to extend the Barça brand and transmit the club’s philosophy of hard work and values to the rest of the world.

Grande Sports Academy is one of the top USSDA academies in the United States. Grande Sports Academy was the first to offer a complete residency program that includes dorms, daily nutrition, a state-of-the-art sports complex, safety, security, education, tutoring, and affiliation with an MLS team.

FC Barcelona’s own youth academy in Spain La Masia has produced some of the club’s very best players, including Lionel Messi, who has scored 312 goals for the club, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and more.

The move is the latest of recent pushes to grow the sport in the state. Phoenix Rising FC is on the MLS’ radar as a possible professional soccer expansion team and University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale was one of 10 host stadiums for the 2016 Copa America.

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