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|BREAKING NEWS: Marcello Lippi signs deal with Guangzhou Evergrande in the Chinese Super League|
Marcello Lippi has been hired to coach big-spending Chinese Super League team Guangzhou Evergrande and plans to bring an Italian style to the club immediately.
Evergrande released a statement Thursday night saying it had hired the World Cup-winning Italian coach until November 2014. Lippi later appeared at a news conference broadcast live on Chinese television to discuss his appointment.
''My arrival should be a big deal and the most important thing in China today,'' Lippi said in comments translated from Italian. ''I will start my work today, the same way I did in Juventus and Inter Milan. The most important thing is to bring the Italian football concepts to China.''
The 64-year-old Lippi may be destined to follow Marco Polo's legacy and leave an influence as he replaces South Korean manager Lee Jang-soo, who took Guangzhou to promotion and then the 2011 Chinese Super League title. Evergrande also is the only current Chinese club through to the last 16 of the Asian Champions League.
Lippi led Juventus to five Italian titles over the 1990s and 2000s and Italy to the 2006 World Cup title. He stood down from the Italian job after winning the World Cup but was reappointed in 2008 and guided Italy to another World Cup, quitting again after the Azzurri's shocking first-round exit.
Lippi said he'd been watching Evergrande's matches for several weeks, including the Chinese Super League and the Asian Champions League.
''I almost know all the players now,'' he said. ''I am glad to accept the invitation from Evergrande.''
Guangzhou owner Xu Jiayin's stated goal is to make Evergrande a continental powerhouse and Lippi is part of his grand scheme. The club also broke the Chinese transfer spending record to sign former Fluminense and Universidad Católica, Argentine playmaker Darío Conca.
''We need everybody to be passionate and confident about it,'' Lippi said. ''I promise to work with my utmost passion and professional knowledge.''
Chinese soccer has long been mired in corruption and underachievement. Lippi's arrival is further evidence, however, of the drive to use the country's burgeoning financial prosperity to emerge from its status as football's "sleeping giant" at both club and international level, where it lags far behind neighbours South Korea and Japan with Australia also emerging steadily.