Fabio Cannavaro has returned for a second spell as manager of Chinese Super League giants Guangzhou Evergrande on a five-year contract.
In an official announcement on their website on Thursday, Evergrande confirmed a move that had been widely speculated since Cannavaro stepped down from previous club Tianjin Quanjian immediately after guiding them to a spot in the AFC Champions League.
The legendary Italian defender, who captained his country to victory at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, was previously handed the reins in November 2014 but was removed after just seven months and replaced by Scolari.
“Benvenuto, Fabio Cannavaro”
He followed that up with an equally unfruitful spell in Saudi Arabia with Al Nassr but finally got his managerial career back on track with Quanjian.
Having taken over the club last year on the back of a seven-game winless streak, Cannavaro somehow steered them to promotion from League One, and followed that up with a third-place finish this year in their first season in top flight.
From today I am no longer the coach of Tianjin Quanjian
You will always be in my heart
Thank you all ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ajpDXKLy6n
— Fabio Cannavaro (@fabiocannavaro) November 6, 2017
Although few would begrudge the 44-year-old his recent success, he will be under plenty of pressure to deliver the goods in 2018.
Cannavaro will not only have to cope with the expectations of Evergrande fans who are accustomed to – and expecting – dominance on the domestic front, but also a host of rising challengers like Shanghai SIPG who are splashing equally big amounts of money and are genuinely threatening to break their stranglehold on the Super League title.
In addition, after a disappointing quarter-final exit this year, Guangzhou will be determined to make a greater impact in the AFC Champions League, a competition which they have won twice in the last five seasons.
Since their rise to becoming the powerhouse of Chinese football, Evergrande have won the last seven Super League titles, in addition to their two Champions League crowns and two FA Cups.