Former England, Real Madrid and Russia manager Fabio Capello was named on Sunday to lead China’s Jiangsu Suning, one of the biggest coaching signings yet in a spending binge by the Chinese domestic league.
Jiangsu Suning said the disciplinarian Italian would “bring some of the world’s most advanced ideas and methods to drive the elevation of Jiangsu football, and Chinese football overall”.
Capello is the latest high-profile import to China following rocketing player deals which reportedly put Ezequiel Lavezzi and Carlos Tevez among the world’s best-paid footballers and saw Chinese clubs smash the Asian transfer record five times within 12 months.
Jiangsu Suning have been particularly free-spending, splashing out on high-priced imports like Brazilians Ramires and Alex Teixeira.
But a disappointing season was compounded by elimination from the AFC Champions League two weeks ago, and they are now flirting with relegation from China’s top tier.
Jiangsu announced the departure of South Korean coach Choi Yong-Soo shortly after their Champions League exit.
Capello, now 70, has won five Serie A titles – four with AC Milan and one with Roma – plus two La Liga crowns with Real Madrid. He also won the Champions League during his time with Milan.
Capello was appointed England manager in December 2007, signing a lucrative contract with a brief to halt years of English footballing under-achievement.
His hard-line disciplinarian approach reaped impressive results during a honeymoon period, when a revitalised England qualified for the 2010 World Cup with ease.
But Capello’s first taste of management at a major international tournament ended in humiliation as England crashed out with a 4-1 defeat against old rivals Germany in the last 16.
He survived the storm of criticism following that failure and guided England to qualification for Euro 2012.
But the Italian resigned before the tournament after disagreeing with the Football Association over the decision to take the captaincy from John Terry, who was facing racism allegations.
Appointed to the Russia job after Euro 2012, Capello oversaw an impressive qualifying campaign for Brazil, reaching the World Cup finals for the first time in 12 years.
The Russians were knocked out in the group stages, however, and Capello was let go the following year amid a rocky qualifying campaign for Euro 2016.
Jiangsu said that besides coaching the team, Capello would be involved in the club’s overall management and oversee training of coaches and youth players.
Jiangsu are one of China’s richest clubs and they are controlled by retailing giant Suning Commerce Group.
Last year, the company bought a majority stake in Inter Milan.
Jiangsu were runners-up to Guangzhou Evergrande in last year’s Chinese Super League, earning a berth in the Champions League, but are now second to last in the 16-team domestic competition.
Capello joins the club just as the Chinese Football Association has stepped up its fight against spiralling big-money deals for foreign players, which have raised concerns over the solvency of clubs.
Last month it announced prohibitive new curbs just ahead of the summer transfer window, which opens June 19.
The CFA said loss-making clubs which pay a transfer fee for a new player must invest an equivalent amount in a government-run fund set up to cultivate Chinese youth players.
The association also said that starting in the 2018 season, clubs will be required to field an equivalent number of foreign players and under-23 Chinese players in each game.