PARIS — Unai Emery coached Paris Saint-Germain to a 0-0 draw away at Caen last Sunday but could be Arsenal’s new boss come Wednesday.
Things move fast in modern football and the Spaniard is a perfect example of that, having been in line to take the top job at formative club Real Sociedad — where he would have reunited with sporting director Roberto Olabe — just a few weeks ago.
Emery, 46, is a three-time consecutive Europa League winner from his time with Sevilla and despite a bumpy patch with PSG, has finally added some domestic success to his CV.
Here are five qualities Arsenal will get in the Basque tactician:
1. Attention to detail
Among the words most regularly associated with Emery are “fanatic” or “obsessive” and both describe him well.
The man from Hondarribia is a workaholic, brings a meticulous approach to his work and is hands-on wherever is possible, in terms of leading his sides.
In Paris, Emery pored over every aspect of his team and would regularly offer detailed opinions on his view of how each role in the team should function.
Arsenal supporters can expect the former Almeria, Valencia and Spartak Moscow man to do similarly at the Emirates. And with fewer star names and egos to match than at Parc des Princes, he will be able to greater express his tactical flexibility.
2. Flexibility with a recruitment chief
In Paris, Emery worked under the uninspiring pairing of sporting director Olivier Letang and director of football Patrick Kluivert in his first season and then another sporting director Antero Henrique in his second.
He will know what to expect under Sven Mislintat and in many ways that will suit him because it enables him to focus on his passion — what happens on the pitch.
It was clear for some time that Arsenal had started to plan for life after Arsene Wenger when Mislintat arrived and Emery will interfere less than the Frenchman did in terms of recruitment.
3. Frustrated tactician
After two years with PSG where he was unable to truly express himself as a footballing philosopher because of an early power struggle that he lost with the key figures in the dressing room, Emery will be eager to remind everybody just how versatile he can be tactically.
The French champions ripped Lyon apart 4-1 in their one semi-competitive outing in Emery’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation but as soon as it became obvious that his methods threatened certain established and comfortable stars, he was overruled.
Arsenal possess fewer players of that calibre and attitude, so Emery is likely to experiment more and mix the style up a bit.
4. Something to prove
He might have led PSG to a third domestic clean sweep in four seasons, but Emery is not an elite coach, which is why Oryx Qatar Sports Investments opted to move on from him and bring in the ambitious Thomas Tuchel.
Emery’s Parisiens swept all before them in France in the campaign just gone but in the Champions League, where it truly matters in the French capital, he fell short with two consecutive round of 16 exits.
However, Arsenal are not the power that they once were, so in that respect, this is a good match — Emery could inspire his new players to express themselves after years of frustration and together, they can start heading back towards the elite.
5. Grace with the media
Above all, Emery is a classy individual and deserves respect for the way he handled himself while with PSG.
Regularly disrespected, even if it was clear from quite early on that he was trying to wear a suit that was a few sizes too big, he was always a credit to himself and the capital club — something that he has in common with predecessor Wenger.
Engaging in conversation, particularly when his passion takes over, he is hard to dislike.
How far that will get him though, especially in another foreign language after his struggles in Paris, remains to be seen.
He is going to Arsenal tasked with winning matches and silverware — not friends.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.