Arsenal are close to announcing Unai Emery as Arsene Wenger’s successor as manager, with sources telling ESPN FC that the former Paris Saint-Germain coach could be unveiled as early as Wednesday by the Premier League club.
Manchester City first-team coach Mikel Arteta had been a front-runner to replace Wenger, with City boss Pep Guardiola giving the former Arsenal captain his blessing to pursue a career in management at the Emirates.
But despite being impressed by Arteta, senior figures among the Arsenal board began to favour Emery early last week following initial talks with the 46-year-old, who parted ways with PSG at the end of this season.
Emery, who won three Europa Leagues during his three-year spell in charge of Sevilla, had been expected to return to Spain to take charge of Real Sociedad following the end of his two-year reign at PSG.
But he has now been selected as the man to rebuild Arsenal following Wenger’s departure earlier this month after 22 years in charge of the club.
Arsenal have overseen a thorough search for their new manager, with chief executive Ivan Gazidis leading the process.
And while the club hierarchy had favoured the appointment of a young, emerging coach, Emery’s track record at Sevilla, where he built one of Europe’s most successful teams on a limited budget, has persuaded Arsenal that he is the man to lead the team into a new era.
His time at PSG, where he won the French title this season, had been less successful, with the club’s Qatari owners choosing to replace him with former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel after two disappointing campaigns in the Champions League.
Arsenal’s decision to turn to Emery is a surprise, however, with the Basque not being regarded as one of Europe’s elite coaches in the same bracket as Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp or Jose Mourinho.
Efforts to tempt to Luis Enrique failed due to the former Barcelona coach’s wage demands, with Germany coach Joachim Low also ruling himself out of the running by signing a new contract with the German football federation.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_