Sergio Batista may soon be taking his soccer coaching skills to Asia…
The 49-year-old Argentine fútbol coach is expected to sign with Shanghai Shenhua in another high-profile hiring by a Chinese Super League team.
The club has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to introduce its new coach, although no other details were given on Shenhua’s website.
Batista, who has been in China since Friday, met on Monday with the club’s star signing, former Chelsea player Nicolas Anelka, who has been leading a five-man coaching lineup since the departure of Jean Tigana of France last month.
Batista helped Argentina win the 1986 World Cup as a player, and coached the Argentine Olympic squad to the gold medal in Beijing in 2008.
Chinese teams recently have begun emerging from years of poor management and match-fixing scandals to splurge on foreign coaches and players, a reflection of China’s growing economic might and thirst for global recognition.
Chinese clubs hope the big names will boost sponsorship and give the league wider recognition, although the dearth of homegrown talent remains a glaring problem for the national team, a perennial underperformer in international competition.
Among other the recent signings, Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande broke the Chinese transfer spending record to sign Argentine playmaker Dario Conca for $10 million from Fluminense, reportedly making him the third-highest paid player in the world.
The Evergrande followed up this month by hiring coach Marcello Lippi, who guided Italy to the 2006 World Cup title.