Aston Villa confirm Unai Emery as manager after paying €6m clause

Unai Emery of Villarreal CF looks on during the LaLiga Santander match between Villarreal CF and UD Almeria at Ciutat de Valencia on October 23, 2022 in Valencia, Spain.

Aston Villa have named Unai Emery as their new manager after the Premier League club paid the Spaniard’s €6m release clause at Villarreal. Villa approached Emery as they looked to make a quick appointment following the sacking of Steven Gerrard.

Emery will take over from November 1st after his work permit formalities are completed, meaning Villa’s caretaker manager Aaron Danks will remain in charge for Saturday’s visit to Newcastle.

Villarreal had retained hope that Emery would stay on, as he did when he turned down Newcastle’s advances last year, but confirmed the departure of the 50-year-old on Monday evening. Emery’s contract at Villarreal had been due to expire next summer.

The former Arsenal head coach secured the Europa League with Villarreal in 2021 after beating Manchester United on penalties in the final and won the competition three years in a row with Sevilla from 2014 to 2016. Last season Villarreal enjoyed a fine run in the Champions League, with Emery leading them to the semi-finals by beating Juventus and Bayern Munich, before they came unstuck against Liverpool.

Emery struggled somewhat as Arsène Wenger’s successor during a short spell at the Emirates Stadium when the team finished fifth in the Premier League and lost the Europa League final against Chelsea in 2019. However, he is recognised as one of the game’s elite coaches and Newcastle were close to appointing him last year before Emery had second thoughts over the switch.

Gerrard was sacked after less than a year in charge after an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Fulham but he travelled back to Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground on the team bus and said his goodbyes to his players in the early hours of Friday.

Without Gerrard, Villa beat Brentford 4-0 on Sunday under caretaker manager Danks, for the side’s third win in the league this season.

Villa had also been linked with an ambitious move for the Sporting head coach, Rúben Amorim, after receiving little encouragement from Mauricio Pochettino about replacing Gerrard. Amorim has established a fine reputation in Europe after leading Sporting to their first Portuguese title in 19 years last season.

Brentford’s Thomas Frank was another name mentioned but it is Emery who will take Villa forward this season.

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