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Guangzhou Evergrande’s head coach Fabio Cannavaro reacts during the 2018 AFC Champions League group stage football match against Japan's Cerezo Osaka. Photo: AFP

Fabio Cannavaro leaves Guangzhou FC amid Evergrande financial crisis

  • Italian boss leaves by mutual consent after ups and downs at Chinese Super League giants, with club’s future uncertain
  • No compensation mentioned for one of world’s highest-paid managers in statement confirming long-awaited departure
Former Fifa World Cup winning defender Fabio Cannavaro has left his post as manager of troubled Chinese Super League side Guangzhou FC by mutual consent, the club confirmed on Tuesday, amid the ongoing financial crisis at owners Evergrande.

Cannavaro had been expected to depart the eight-time champions of China, with reports from local media earlier this month suggesting he had left the club formerly known as Guangzhou Evegrande.

That news was confirmed in a short statement on the club’s Weibo account.

“After friendly negotiations, Guangzhou Evergrande has decided to terminate Fabio Cannavaro‘s contract,” the statement read.

Guangzhou Evergrande head coach Fabio Cannavaro looks on during the Group G match against South Korea's Jeju United in the 2018 AFC Champions League. Photo: Xinhua

“We wholeheartedly thank Fabio Cannavaro for his huge efforts and positive contribution to the club, and wish him all the best for the future!”

Cannavaro was long reported to be among the highest-paid managers in world football. The statement made no mention of compensation for the outgoing head coach, who had two years left on a reported US$12 million-per-year contract.

Guangzhou Evergrande – China’s richest football club in need of bailout

Last year Chinese media had reported Cannavaro would leave the club if he was paid out for his contract, with a figure of 200 million yuan (US$30.6 million) mentioned at the time.

Some Chinese media reported that Cannavaro was seeking 120 million yuan compensation to leave now, while others suggest that he has left after a 40 million yuan pay off.

China international and Guangzhou player Wei Shihao wished Cannavaro well on Weibo.

Zheng back as Cannavaro’s No 2 at Guangzhou FC – after 48 days as his boss

“I spent the best three years of my football career with you. You are the best coach, thank you very much. I will miss you and wish you all the best. Hope to see you soon. Too late to say goodbye.” the footballer wrote in English.

It ends a roller-coaster ride for the 48-year-old Italian at the Chinese Super League (CSL) giants, who joined the club in 2014.

He was replaced by Luiz Felipe Scolari and left for China League One side Tianjin Quanjian a year later, gaining promotion at the first attempt before taking them into the AFC Asian Champions League with a third-placed CSL finish.

Guangzhou coach Fabio Cannavaro throws away his jacket during the 2020 AFC Champions League group G meeting with South Korea's Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Photo: AFP

Cannavaro rejoined the Guangzhou side in 2017 but was pipped to the 2018 title by Shanghai SIPG, now known as Shanghai Port.

After reclaiming the title in 2019 the club failed to win any silverware last season, the first time in a decade they ended a season without a trophy.

Cannavaro is the only Evergrande manager to have finished second in the CSL, and he did so twice in three seasons.

Cannavaro waiting on US$30 million payout: reports

Following last season’s runners-up finish, Cannavaro’s future was again the source of much speculation with the Italian demoted at one stage last year to work under player-coach Zheng Zhi.

Cannavaro – who also briefly managed the Chinese national team while at Guangzhou Evergrande – had previously been sent to the real estate company’s headquarters for corporate training just a month before lifting the 2019 CSL title.

His departure follows that of several of the club’s star players such as Paulinho and Anderson Talisca, while a number of high-profile foreign players and coaches have left the Chinese top flight in the last 12 to 18 months.

That has coincided with the implementation of a number of measures to curb spending, coupled with the impact of Covid-19 on finances.

Chinese Super League champions Jiangsu FC – formerly Jiangsu Suning – folded before the start of the current season amid a crisis for their owners. Cannavaro’s former team Tianjin Quanjian also disappeared after trouble with their owners.

Cannavaro sent for ‘study’ after Evergrande drop points

Evergrande’s future and that of the club that they financed to become two-time champions of Asia remains unclear.

The Chinese Super League is set to resume in December following China’s upcoming Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 matches in October and November.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Cannavaro leaves Guangzhou amid Evergrande crisis