Unai Emery: Ex-Arsenal manager frontrunner for Newcastle United vacancy - record, style of play and signings

Unai Emery. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)Unai Emery. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
Unai Emery. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
Current Villarreal boss is reportedly wanted by the new NUFC owners to succeed Steve Bruce at St James' Park.

It’s been a fortnight since Newcastle United relieved Steve Bruce of his managerial duties, and the hunt for a new boss has been ongoing ever since.

Various names have been linked, but the latest to emerge as a frontrunner is Villarreal boss Unai Emery.

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According to several reports, the former Arsenal manager is the new owners’ preferred candidate to takeover at St. James’ Park, with talks already underway over a potential move to the north east.

We’ve taken a look back over his career to date to bring you everything you need to know about Emery…

Who has Unai Emery managed in the past?

After a relatively lowkey playing career, Emery moved into coaching after suffering a serious knee injury at the age of 32.

His first gig was with Lorca Deportiva, who he guided to a notable promotion to the Spanish second tier – the first time the club had achieved the feat in their history.

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From there, Emery moved to Almeria, and after taking the Andalusian side to a lofty eighth-placed finish in La Liga, he made a high-profile switch to Valencia.

Four years with Los Murciélagos led to a doomed six month spell with Spartak Moscow, but the 49-year-old bounced back immediately with a successful stint coaching Sevilla. In three years with the club, he won three Europa League titles, earning him a move to France with PSG.

Emery’s time at PSG saw him pick up his first ever league title, as well as two Coupe de France medals, but he was ultimately replaced with Thomas Tuchel in 2018.

Arsenal came calling shortly after, and the Spaniard put pen to paper on a two-year deal. Emery’s time in north London was tumultuous, with a Europa League runners-up medal proving to be the closest he would come to a trophy. He was sacked after a winless run of seven matches in November 2019.

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Since July 2020, Emery has been in charge of Villarreal, and tasted major success in his first season when he guided the side to yet another Europa League. His record of four wins in the competition is a managerial record.

Overall, his managerial win percentage stands at a respectable 53.1%, with 462 victories out of 870 matches in the dugout.

What is Unai Emery’s style of play?

Emery isn’t afraid to set his sides up to attack, with his preferred formation being a 4-3-3 with plenty of width.

The 49-year-old is not averse to flexibility and experimentation, though.

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During his stint with Villarreal, he has employed a 4-4-1-1 regularly, and has even been known to utilise a traditional 4-4-2 on occasion.

Generally speaking, Emery likes to play out from the back, with an emphasis on his full-backs pushing on into advanced areas out wide.

Defensively, the Spaniard tends to try and solidify his central midfield areas to create a mid-block, as opposed to pressing vigorously from the front.

Who has Unai Emery signed in the past?

Emery is no stranger to being in charge of vast transfer kitties.

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His most notable signing came during his spell at PSG, during which he spent almost £200 million to bring Neymar in from Barcelona.

During his time at Arsenal, the Gunners’ recruitment was somewhat mixed.

The £72 million spent on Nicolas Pepe has never really looked like good value for money, although the Ivorian has looked increasingly impressive in the months since Emery left north London.

Other signings were much more astute, however, with the likes of Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Martinelli proving that he has an eye for promising young talent at relatively low price points.

He was also the man to give current Toon hero Joe Willock his senior debut at Arsenal.