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Return of the king: World Cup-winner Marcello Lippi set for historic deal with former club Guangzhou Evergrande

Italy’s Marcello Lippi could return to Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande on a three-year, 60 million (HK$525m) deal which would make him the world’s highest-paid coach, reports said on Thursday.

Former Italy and Juventus coach Lippi steered the Chinese side to three consecutive Super League titles in 2012, 2013 2014 as well as the AFC Champions League title in 2013, which was the first continental success for any Chinese side in 23 years.

According to Corriere dello Sport, he will sign a three-year contract with Guangzhou worth 20m net per season – a salary that, if confirmed, would put Pep Guardiola’s world-beating 17.7m salary at Manchester City in the shade.

Earlier this week, Lippi – who quit as Guangzhou’s director of football in February 2015 having succeeded by compatriot Fabio Cannavaro at the end of 2014 – because he wanted to “be closer to Italy” – said he is considering a return to China.

“Yes, it’s true – I am considering returning,” he said. “I enjoyed my time in China…it was an exciting challenge.”

Having become the first coach in history to win both the Uefa Champions League, with Juventus in 1996, and AFC Champions League, with Guangzhou in 2013, the dapper 68-year-old remains one of the world’s most sought-after coaches.

Lippi admitted recently he almost returned to AC Milan last January to replace Sinisa Mihajlovic at the club’s request, only for the club to backpedal when the Rossoneri’s results started to improve. Mihajlovic has since been replaced by ex-Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Montella.

Watch: Guangzhou Evergrande win the 2013 AFC Champions League title