According to a pair of reports, including Italian journalist Gianluca di Marizo, Portuguese manager Leonardo Jardim is close to finalizing a deal with Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.
Jardim was let go by AS Monaco in mid-October with the club shockingly battling relegation. His firing ended a four-year spell at the French club that saw him win a Ligue 1 title in 2016/17, earning him Ligue 1 Manager of the Year honors. However, Monaco sat 18th at the time of his departure, without a single league win since an opening day victory over FC Nantes.
Dalian Yifang is currently managed by German boss Bernd Schuster, who formerly led Real Madrid in 2008/09 and has also managed Malaga, Besiktas, and Shakhtar Donetsk in the past. However, the club finished the 2018 season 11th in the 16-team table and lost four of its last five matches. They have been on the lookout for a new manager for some time, despite only hiring Schuster in March. There were reports in early December that ousted Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli was a candidate for the job, although that never came about.
Notable players on the Dalian Yifang squad include 25-year-old Belgian international Yannick Carrasco and Argentinian winger Nicolas Gaitan. Jardim managed Carrasco at Monaco – his first professional experience after graduating from the Monaco youth side via Genk – before the Belgian left for Atletico Madrid in 2015.
Jardim was known for his ability to incorporate young players from the famed Monaco youth academy into his squad successfully, and the club was able to make a profit on numerous graduates over his time at the club. However, the club often toed a fine line of balancing the sale of young players with maintaining a competitive squad, and when this summer saw the official departures of Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, and Fabinho all for big money, it seemed Monaco would struggle for league form. Still, few expected Monaco to be in a relegation battle, and they still sit 19th despite firing Jardim and bringing in Thierry Henry for his first managerial position.