Saturday March 4 2017
Cannavaro: 'I called Mertens to China'

Tianjin Quanjian Coach Fabio Cannavaro admits he tried to sign Dries Mertens from Napoli and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, but rejected Marouane Fellaini.

The World Cup and Ballon d’Or winner was in Europe over the past few weeks for pre-season training and hit the headlines with his €40m offer for Fiorentina striker Nikola Kalinic.

It turns out he wasn’t the only Serie A star that Cannavaro tried to take to the Chinese Super League.

“I spoke to Mertens and tried to bring him with me. But when we were talking, he started scoring regularly for Napoli. In any case, we never went beyond a chat,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

“There are several great Belgian players that may be of interest to China. Radja Nainggolan, for example, is very interesting because he can have an Asian passport. That’s important once they changed the rules to allow only three foreigners.”

Roma midfielder Nainggolan is half-Indonesian and therefore can have an Indonesian passport.

Cannavaro surprisingly confessed he had the chance to sign a Manchester United midfielder and passed.

“Marouane Fellaini was offered to me, but I told the transfer representatives that I was looking for someone with a different profile.

“I did talk with Lukaku, but the problem is Everton don’t want to let him go. It’s not an issue that he’s young, because that didn’t stop Oscar. Lukaku would be perfect for China.

“Football is football all over the world. Every player wants to be at a club that wins.”

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