Arsenal have hired former Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery to take them into a new era following Arsene Wenger’s departure, with sources telling ESPN FC he has signed a three-year contract.
Emery, who spent two seasons at PSG, did not have his contract in Paris renewed and was replaced last week by former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
Wenger’s 22-year reign at Arsenal came to an end earlier this month as the club finished sixth in the Premier League — their lowest finish in the table since before he was appointed — and exited the Europa League with a semifinal loss to eventual winners Atletico Madrid.
“I am thrilled to be joining one of the great clubs in the game,” Emery told Arsenal’s website. “Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium, the way the club is run.
“I’m very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal’s history.
“I have met Stan and Josh Kroenke and it’s clear they have great ambitions for the club and are committed to bringing future success. I’m excited about what we can do together and I look forward to giving everyone who loves Arsenal some special moments and memories.”
He guided PSG to the Ligue 1 and Coupe de la Ligue double this season, but exits in the Champions League round of 16 in the last two years convinced the club hierarchy that he was not the right candidate for the job moving forward.
“Emery is signing a three-year contract. It’s signed, it’s a stable contract and he will take with him his coaching staff,” a source close to Emery told ESPN FC.
Juan Carlos Carcedo has been one of Emery’s assistants since 2006, when they worked together at Almeira, and he has followed Emery to Valencia, Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and PSG.
Three other assistants — technical coach Pablo Villanueva, fitness coach Julen Masach and video analyst Victor Manas — also have worked alongside Emery for several years.
Sources told ESPN FC that the club had been impressed by Manchester City assistant coach and former Arsenal midfielder and captain Mikel Arteta, but senior figures began to have reservations about his readiness for the appointment considering his lack of managerial experience.
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis led the search for a replacement, and he proclaimed at a news conference announcing Wenger’s departure that he would make an “open-minded and also brave” appointment — leading to belief he would hire a non-traditional candidate such as Arteta.
But sources told ESPN FC that Emery was able to persuade Arsenal that he could lead the club into a new era regardless of their budget, and that he could work within their revamped structure that includes Gazidis, recruitment chief Sven Mislintat and director of football relations Raul Sanllehi.
“Unai has an outstanding track record of success throughout his career, has developed some of the best young talent in Europe and plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly,” chief executive Ivan Gazidis said following Emery’s appointment.
“His hard-working and passionate approach and his sense of values on and off the pitch make him the ideal person to take us forward. We conducted a confidential, wide-ranging and rigorous search involving extensive background references, data and video analysis, and personal meetings with all the candidates we shortlisted.
“All were interested in the position and we were unanimous in our choice of Unai to drive the next chapter of our history.”
Arsenal’s efforts to tempt former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique failed due his wage demands, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said he wanted to stay with the club and Germany coach Joachim Low signed a new contract with the German football federation last week.
Emery, meanwhile, had been expected to return to Spain to take over at Real Sociedad following the end of his two-year reign at PSG.
A native of Hondarribia, in Spain’s Basque Country, Emery moved to PSG from Sevilla, who won three consecutive Europa League titles in his three full seasons as their coach.
He also previously coached at Spartak Moscow, lasting 26 games in the 2012-13 season before being sacked, and before that spent four years leading Valencia in his first top-flight appointment.
Emery, who has no previous experience in England, has a reputation for having an almost obsessive attention to detail, putting a large emphasis on video analysis and excelling at improving individual players — qualities that many have said were lacking at Arsenal during the latter part of Wenger’s reign.
While Emery has traditionally favoured an attack-minded style of football, he is also known to be more tactically flexible than Wenger — and his first major task will be to sort out Arsenal’s chronically weak defence and instil a new mentality in a squad that has often been accused of being too soft.
Arsenal conceded 51 league goals this past season and lost seven consecutive away games in 2018 before finally winning at Huddersfield Town on the last day of the season.