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World Cup-Winning Coach Lippi Joins Chinese Champion Evergrande

Marcello Lippi, who led Italy’s national soccer team to World Cup victory in 2006, was hired as coach of Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande.

Lippi, 64, signed a 2 1/2-year contract “in accordance with the strategic needs of the club,” the team owned by developer Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. said today in a statement, without giving salary details. Manager Lee Jang-Soo was fired, the club said in a separate statement.

Lippi, who hasn’t coached since the 2010 World Cup, when Italy failed to advance beyond the group stage, will be paid about 10 million euros ($12.7 million) a season, Chinese newspaper Titan Sports reported today.

China is starting to draw top talent as soccer club owners increase spending on teams and the league’s image improves following corruption scandals, match-fixing and violence on and off the pitch. Former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka moved to Shanghai Shenhua in January with an annual wage of 10.6 million euros, while Evergrande last year signed Dario Leonardo Conca, the Argentine named the best soccer player in Brazil for two consecutive years, for a Chinese record fee of $10 million.

Didier Drogba, another Chelsea striker, and former Real Madrid midfielder Guti are among players considering offers from Chinese clubs, according to Chinese media reports.

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