Friday February 3 2017
Cannavaro: 'Kalinic my first choice'

Tianjin Quanjian Coach Fabio Cannavaro reveals that Fiorentina striker Nikola Kalinic was his 'number one choice'.

The Croatian ultimately opted to remain in Florence, but what positives does the 43-year-old find in being a Coach in China with Tianjin Quanjian?

"I feel needed and this gives me satisfaction," Cannavaro told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"At Tianjin they give me something more. I’m an all-round manager and I like it, it's exciting.

"I take care of everything: from the organisation on the pitch, to the transfer market. It’s an excellent opportunity for my professional growth."

The former Italy World Cup winner has terrorised Italian clubs with multiple stories emerging of potential transfer targets for his Chinese side.

"Really?" Cannavaro smiles. "But  I have not even taken a player from here. And then at most I can be Santa Claus. Porto means smiles for everyone."

Many were astonished that Axel Witsel turned down Juventus to join his team, and accused him of being motivated only by money.

"On this I agree up to a point. For I have taken only players whose first question was not 'How much will I make?'.

"Of course, money is important but for me, the desire to bet on themselves is the reason that counts. Axel will be my box to box player."

Fiorentina striker Nikola Kalinic turned down a move to Tianjin, what happened with the deal?

"He is my first choice for the 4-3-3 I have in mind. But something did not work, because everything seemed fine but then some intermediaries changed their attitude and expectations.

"We still can take another foreigner. In China, the market is open for the entire month of February. We'll see.

"I contacted a lot less than was published in the newspapers. It is true that all of a sudden I started getting phone calls from top player’s agents, even more than I could have imagined.

"It's not for me to say what the reason was, but when I was concerned about it I carried out personal interviews just to know the motivations of the players."