Unai Emery is considering an approach from Aston Villa to take over as their new manager, sources have told ESPN, and a decision is imminent with the Villarreal coach tempted by a return to the Premier League.
Former Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain boss Emery, 50, has been in charge of Villarreal since 2020, winning the Europa League — the LaLiga club’s first ever trophy — in his debut season and taking them to the Champions League semifinals a year later.
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Emery was close to a move back to England in November 2021 when he was offered the manager’s job at Newcastle United, before opting to stay at Villarreal.
Talks between Villa and Emery began on Sunday, sources told ESPN, with the Premier League club looking for a replacement for Steven Gerrard who was sacked after a 3-0 defeat at Fulham last Thursday.
Emery would be keen on returning to English football — after spending an up-and-down 18 months at Arsenal from May 2018 to November 2019 — and Villarreal are now making contingency plans for his possible departure.
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Villa would like to conclude a deal by Tuesday at the latest, sources said.
They are 14th in the Premier League table, with 12 points from 12 games, after Gerrard’s sacking was followed by a 4-0 win over Brentford on Sunday under interim boss Aaron Danks.
Emery came to prominence in Spain when he managed Almeria to promotion to LaLiga in 2007.
He coached Valencia to three consecutive third-placed finishes before a brief spell at Spartak Moscow, and then won three Europa Leagues in three years while in charge of Sevilla.
That European success led him to take over at PSG and then Arsenal, who he took to the 2019 Europa League final where they lost to Chelsea.
He secured a fifth-placed finish that season in the Premier League before being sacked following a poor start to the 2019-20 season.
He has rebuilt his reputation at Villarreal, beating Manchester United in the 2021 Europa League final and taking them to last season’s Champions League semifinals, beating giants Juventus and Bayern Munich en route.