Unai Emery rejects Newcastle offer, releases statement

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Newcastle United hoped to appoint Unai Emery as their new manager, but the Spanish coach isn’t heading to St James’ Park.

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Emery has released a statement confirming that he held talks with Newcastle but will stay at Villarreal.

Following Villarreal’s 2-0 win in the UEFA Champions League against Young Boys on Tuesday, Emery gave some cryptic answers when asked about Newcastle’s interest in him.

He confirmed that interest was there, but stopped short of saying any official approach had been made and that he wanted to join Newcastle to become the first manager appointed by their new Saudi Arabian-led ownership group.

Since then, Spanish journalist Guillem Ballague has stated that Emery will reject Newcastle’s approach, is happy at Villarreal and didn’t feel like Newcastle had a clear plan for where they wanted the club to go.

Unai Emery said as much in this statement:

“I am honestly grateful to the interest from a great club. I am even more grateful to be here and I want to continue to be part of this project,” Emery said. “No matter how much noise there was yesterday in another country there was transparency and loyalty within Villarreal and the Roig family [owners] and their staff. That is maximum for me and that is most important for me. Villarreal is my home and I am 100 percent committed to stay here.”

Eddie Howe now appears to be Newcastle’s leading contender to take charge, as our partners in the UK at Sky Sports, the Guardian and others believe the former Bournemouth manager is being lined up.

What were the initial reports?

Numerous reports, including this one from The Telegraph, said that Newcastle are pushing ahead to try and bring Emery in as their new manager.

It has been reported that Newcastle will have to pay Villarreal $8.2 million compensation to get Unai Emery, who won the Europa League last season and despite a slow start in La Liga this season, he has Villarreal battling to reach the Champions League last 16.

Newcastle hoped to have Emery in charge for their trip to Brighton this Saturday (watch live, 12:30pm ET online via NBCSports.com).

Is Emery the right man to turn things around at Newcastle?

He is certainly one of the best defensive coaches in the game and aside from having the tough task of replacing Arsene Wenger at Arsenal (which, in hindsight, he did a decent job at) he has excelled at Sevilla, PSG and now Villarreal.

This would be a massive coup for Newcastle and their new Saudi Arabian-led ownership group. But it now seems unlikely.

With Steve Bruce fired a few weeks ago, they have placed Graeme Jones in charge on an interim basis but the Magpies have failed to win any of their opening 10 games of the Premier League season and sit six points from safety and in 19th place in the table.

If he does take charge, Emery will no doubt have plenty of transfer funds to spend in January but the main attraction is that he has a track record of making teams tough to beat defensively and building a solid platform towards success.

This is certainly a surprise given some of the names Newcastle were said to be looking at as their manager, with Eddie Howe, Roberto Martinez, Luicen Favre and Paulo Fonseca also mentioned. It has been reported that Eddie Howe is the back-up option if Emery doesn’t take charge.

It now seems like Howe is the leading contender to try and save Newcastle this season.