Fabio Cannavaro has today confirmed that he has returned to Guangzhou Evergrande to take over from Luiz Felipe Scolari as head coach.
Cannavaro left Evergrande and this very same position back in 2015, and has since managed Tianjin Quanjian who he led to an impressive third-place finish in the CSL before quitting earlier this week. This news has had a feeling of inevitability as a result, with Scolari also announcing his departure from Guangzhou Evergrande following the final CSL games of the season last Saturday.
Of course, Evergrande have dominated the CSL years for years now, meaning in addition to repeating the league wins the club have now managed for seven consecutive seasons, Cannavaro will be tasked with achieving Champions League success as well as Chinese player progression. The Italian World Cup winner will adopt a squad that consists of Chinese talent as well as a strong contingent of overseas players including Brazilian Ricardo Goulart and Colombian Jackson Martinez, but upon re-appointing Cannavaro, Evergrande have stated that they would like the club to be fielding a team of only Chinese players by 2020.
Owner Xu Jiayin insists the transition to a team filled with local talent must not sacrifice quality though:
“We will look to gradually reduce our need for foreign players and we hope to maintain the team’s quality by 2020, but with a fully Chinese squad.”
“But we don’t want an all-Chinese team and have our standards drop. The coach has signed a five-year contract with us, so that means he will be part of the process through to 2020. He is quite confident, too, that Evergrande will be a strong team even when it is all-Chinese.”
Cannavaro, a former Juventus and Real Madrid defender, is delighted to return to Evergrande and appears eager to get started with the challenge ahead of him. The Italian approves of the club’s plan to focus on local players and feels sure that said players will then eventually be able to play in and improve China’s national team.
“Evergrande’s plan for the upcoming years excites me very much and strongly motivates me to work with the club. We will need to bring as many Chinese talents through as possible while keeping winning as always.”
Cannavaro reminded those at the press conference that he always said he would return to Guangzhou Evergrande, and is delighted to have done so after gaining some great experience of Chinese football with Tianjin Quanjian. The 44-year-old led Quanjian to their first ever qualification for the Asian Champions League, but must now re-adapt to the far higher standards Evergrande expect as they hope to see Cannavaro land the club a third Champions League trophy.
Today I would like to announce I am the new coach of Guangzhou Evergrande FC. I am extremely proud to be returning to Guangzhou and grateful for the opportunity. I am looking forward to success in the new season. Never say goodbye #guangzhou #evergrande #neversaygoodbye pic.twitter.com/WwWRiL7Byo
— Fabio Cannavaro (@fabiocannavaro) November 9, 2017
Given the clear project Evergrande have publically outlined for Cannavaro, it will certainly be interesting to see how things unfold in Guangzhou in the coming seasons.