Guangzhou FC head coach Fabio Cannavaro has left the eight-times Chinese Super League champions club by mutual consent, the club said on Tuesday.
Guangzhou, owned by embattled property developers Evergrande, made the announcement on social media, ending speculation over the Italian’s position after he failed to return to China as scheduled last Thursday.
Cannavaro was in his second spell at the club and led Guangzhou to the CSL title in 2019 as well as to runners-up finishes in 2018 and 2020.
The World Cup-winning defender was initially appointed Guangzhou coach in late 2014 but he was replaced by Luiz Felipe Scolari in June, 2015 after a series of disappointing results.
He returned to Guangzhou at the end of 2017 having led Tianjin Quanjian to promotion from the second division and a third-place finish in the club’s first season in the top flight.
Under Cannavaro, however, Guangzhou rarely hit the heights achieved by Marcello Lippi and Scolari, who both won the Asian Champions League during their stints in charge of the big- spending club.
Cannavaro’s position was under threat after losing the CSL title to Shanghai SIPG in 2018 and again two years later when Jiangsu Suning pipped Guangzhou to the crown.
The departure of influential foreign players such as former Barcelona and Brazil midfielder Paulinho and his compatriot Anderson Talisca has hampered Guangzhou this season, although Cannavaro did steer the team into the CSL’s championship round.
That is not due to start until December after the CSL went on a three-and-a-half month hiatus to allow the China national team to prepare for the final phase of Asia’s preliminaries for next year’s World Cup.