Marcelo Lippi on Brazilian scouting mission for Guangzhou Evergrande
Former Italian coach Marcello Lippi is currently on a scouting mission in Brazil for Chinese football club Guangzhou Evergrande.
Rio de Janeiro: Former Italian coach Marcello Lippi is currently on a scouting mission in Brazil for Chinese football club Guangzhou Evergrande.
The 66-year-old stood down as Evergrande manager last month after guiding the club to four successive Chinese Super League titles, reports Xinhua.
But he remains the club's director and has spent the past week observing players at several Brazilian clubs.
"Marcello Lippi has not come looking for a specific player but could decide to target somebody depending on his observations," local football news portal Lancenet said.
Among the players understood to be on Lippi's radar are Fluminense's Jean, Cicero, Henrique and Bruno.
Lippi, who guided Italy to World Cup triumph in 2006, met the quartet's agent, Eduardo Uram, who denies the players are involved in transfer talks.
"As far as I know, Lippi's visit to Fluminense was just for courtesy. I can assure you that there are no negotiations with any player that represents the club," Uram said.
Jean arguably represents the most tantalising option for Evergrande.
The 28-year-old mid-fielder has so far played six international matches and was a member of Luiz Felipe Scolari's squad that won the 2013 Confederations Cup.
Lippi was also seen watching Parana Clube's 4-1 victory over America in Brazil's Serie B Saturday. The Italian is said to have been impressed by the 23-year-old striker Thiaguinho, who scored twice for Parana Clube.
A day later, Lippi witnessed former Brazil striker Leandro Damiao score a brace in Santos' 2-0 victory over Botafogo.
Damiao has struggled for form and fitness since his $18 million transfer from Internacional last December. But his performance Sunday may prompt Santos to consider offloading the 25-year-old while his stock remains high.
Evergrande have traditionally enjoyed close links with Brazilian clubs, whose players have been pivotal to the team's success in recent years.
Guangzhou's squad currently boasts two Brazilians - mid-fielder Rene Junior and forward Elkeson. Fluminense's Argentine playmaker Dario Conca also had a successful two-and-a-half-year spell there before returning to Rio this year.
Fluminense are reportedly seeking to cash in on some of their most valuable assets in a bid to offset rising debt and bankroll new signings next year.