Friday February 3 2017
Cannavaro: 'Witsel great fit for Juve'

Fabio Cannavaro admits that Axel Witsel 'would've been great at Juve' before joining Tianjin Quanjian.

The midfielder snubbed a move to Juventus in order to join the Chinese Super League for an exorbitant salary.

After revealing that Fiorentina striker Nikola Kalinic was his 'first choice,' the former Italy World Cup winner discussed Chinese investments in the Milan clubs.

But what is the standard of football like in China?

"Good. At the Asian level, it’s better to judge by the results in the Champions League," Cannavaro told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"They are improving their viability and today football in China has more viewers than in Italy.

"And then they are going with European Coaches. Marcello Lippi is reorganising the national team, and this year the Super League will put me against [Sven Goran] Eriksson, [Andre] Villas-Boas, and [Luiz Felipe] Scolari.

"I would say things are already happening. Would you ever have imagined until recently that Inter and Milan would be owned by China?

"I looked a European map with Chinese shares in professional clubs, it was awesome. They do not make empty statements, but act."

How do Inter compare with Juventus, now that the Nerazzurri have benefited from Chinese investment?

"The Bianconeri are even stronger. They will win for several years. But Suning are doing seriously good things and understand the importance of a core Italian group of players.

"They have acted well in the January market. Pioli is doing the rest and they are laying the foundations for an ambitious future."

Are Juventus really unbeatable?

"In Italy I think so, in Europe it will be different. I hope so, but maybe in the middle they have something missing.

"In recent years they have lost important players like [Andrea] Pirlo, [Arturo] Vidal, [Paul] Pogba. Those players are really difficult to replace.

"Witsel in effect would have been great for them. He would have been perfect to backup Khedira, but also to enter into the action."

The Coach will see two of his former sides face off when Napoli take on Real Madrid in the Champions League. Who will come out on top?

"For Napoli, the Bernabeu game is a test of maturity. The international importance of the Real is not up for debate, however, Sarri’s team will have the opportunity to confront and test an interesting system.

"The Partenopei are growing and I’m curious to see how they will play."

How does Cannavaro go about daily life in China?

"With that of an explorer. I try to understand and respect their culture, and their customs.

"Tianjin is the most European city in China and it’s more open, being an ancient port with various settlements and even an Italian neighborhood with Art Nouveau buildings.

"At the same time I try to teach football and carry on my ideas of the game

"I can speak English, Spanish or Italian with the players. But when I speak to the group, it is right that I talk to them with the Chinese translator.

"This obviously involves an extra step and the message sometimes gets less direct. But I'm learning a few words of Chinese and body language to helps them to understand.

"Being Neapolitan helps me in this way! And then the dedication of these guys, their desire to improve really is a great stimulus for me.

"To debut in the top flight will be difficult because we are inexperienced at this level, but I am also building a team that is very well structured physically and is vocal on the pitch."

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