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Reports: Arsenal tabs Unai Emery as new manager

Arsenal will name former PSG manager Unai Emery as Arsene Wenger’s successor, according to multiple reports Monday.


Unai Emery’s résumé

PSG parted ways with Emery after two seasons just last week. Prior to his stint in Paris, the Spaniard managed Sevilla to three consecutive Europa League titles. His résumé also includes stops at Spartak Moscow and Valencia.

At PSG, Emery won one of two Ligue 1 titles, losing out to Monaco in his first season. He was four for four in domestic cup competitions.

But he was fired largely because he could not get PSG over the hump in the Champions League. He was on the wrong end of Barcelona’s famous 6-1 second-leg comeback in the 2016-17 Round of 16. Then, despite a flying start to the 2017-18 group stage, the Parisians perished against Real Madrid in the first knockout round again. Emery was ousted in favor of Thomas Tuchel.

Unai Emery will reportedly be Arsenal’s next manager. (Getty)

Arteta talks break down

Current Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta had been widely considered the favorite to take over for Wenger, whom Arteta played under as Arsenal’s captain. Just last Friday, there were reports Arteta would be announced as Wenger’s successor this week. Other contenders for the job, according to reports, included Juventus’ Max Allegri and former Barcelona manager Jose Enrique.

But out of nowhere, it appears the Gunners have chosen Emery. Reports suggest talks between the two parties got serious last week.

And between Friday and Monday, talks with Arteta reportedly broke down over the level of control the 36-year-old would have had over matters such as backroom hires and off-field decisions.

Arsenal’s new organizational structure

Arsenal has implemented a new hierarchy structured around a director of football, taking it away from the Wenger era and into the modern one. The division of labor will be more defined, with transfers in the hands of transfer experts, fitness in the hands of fitness experts, and so on.

In fact, the process was already underway before Wenger announced his resignation on April 20:

It began last summer with the impending end of Wenger’s reign coming into focus. Two loyal Wenger lieutenants, Steve Rowley and Dick Law, parted ways with the club. Sven Mislintat, his eye for off-the-radar talent reminiscent of Wenger’s 20 years ago, was poached from Borussia Dortmund as Arsenal’s new director of recruitment. Raul Sanllehi came in from Barcelona as a “head of football relations” to lead transfer negotiations. Darren Burgess, a pioneering Australian fitness expert, arrived as director of high performance. Huss Fahmy, formerly of British cycling’s Team Sky, was brought on board to bring his legal expertise to player contract. As Jonathan Northcroft wrote in The Times, “2017 was the club’s biggest year of behind-the-scenes change since Wenger arrived in 1996.”

This is how most successful modern clubs operate. That’s not to say managers aren’t in on all major decisions. But Wenger was the decision-maker. The next Arsenal manager won’t be. Arteta presumably wasn’t able to accept that. Emery presumably was.

Emery while, at Sevilla, worked exceedingly well with renowned sporting director Monchi – and worked well on a modest budget. Together, the two consistently overachieved and beat big-spending rivals. Arsenal – which can’t (or doesn’t) spend as much as the Premier League’s top teams – will hope to put a similar structure around Emery and let the 46-year-old’s soccer acumen take the club back into the Champions League and England’s top four.

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