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Villarreal should seriously consider Unai Emery opportunity amid Aston Villa approach

Emery is in talks with Aston Villa

Villarreal CF v UD Almeria - LaLiga Santander
Emery is in talks with Villa
Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Villarreal face losing head coach Unai Emery to the Premier League.

Emery is subject to interest from Aston Villa, who made the decision to sack Steven Gerrard last week.

According to Diario AS, Villa are willing to pay Emery’s release clause, and it is possible the deal could be done, with Emery having less than a year remaining on his current deal.

There have been talks with Emery to extend his deal, but it has been radio silence over the last fortnight with results taking a sour turn in La Liga.

Things have picked up a touch in the last week, with Villarreal winning two games either side of a Barcelona stuffing.

With the Yellows unimpressive again in the league, the Yellows may take the cash now, well aware that Emery could leave for a Premier League opportunity at some point anyway.

It’s no secret Emery wants to prove himself in the Premier League, and he was more than tempted by the Newcastle United job last year before deciding to stay.

Talks are expected to take place between Villa and Emery, and it will be interesting to see whether the Yellows boss feels it is the right opportunity, given the Midlands club are not in Europe - nor are they particularly close to competing for it.

Emery does his best work in Europe, rather than in league competition, so he will not be able to win over fans in Europe the way he has at other clubs.


To add some personal opinion, this might be the right time for Villarreal to part ways with Emery.

Make no mistake, the Basque boss will go down in history at this club, winning the club’s first ever major trophy and equaling the club’s record in the Champions League by reaching the semi-finals.

There has to be a firm line drawn under that point. He is an elite manager who has achieved wonders with Villarreal.

But he has underachieved in La Liga. There have been mitigating circumstances. Villarreal were happy to sacrifice league form to win the Europa League, and last season, star striker Gerard Moreno missed more than half of the La Liga season.

The club also resisted signing a new striker last summer, and that is already costing them this season amid more injury issues for Moreno.

But the Yellows have suffered from the same issues for two and a half years under Emery, slipping up in games they should have won.

And above all, the concerning aspect is that, while Villarreal are tactically astute for the most part, they aren’t particularly fun to watch under Emery in the league.

Emery will always be a historic Villarreal coach
Photo by MICHAEL SOHN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

That’s something fans are happy to accept in Europe to achieve results, but in La Liga, it’s about more than results for the Yellows.

This is a talented squad that could be playing a far more entertaining, energetic brand of football. That hasn’t been an issue until now, but we are starting to see some unhappiness among supporters.

If Emery wants to go and Villa are willing to pay, this may be the right time for Villarreal to add a new leader for this project. The Yellows are not in either of the two biggest European competitions this season, and they still have time to challenge for the top four.

A lot depends on the replacement Villarreal can get, of course. Options like Marcelino - if hatchets can be buried - and Paco Lopez appear attractive, especially given the brands of play those managers bring.

But it is very easy to step down from a top coach like Emery, and that is part of this equation. Villarreal have - and continue to invest a significant amount in this squad, and they can’t afford to take steps backwards.

Of course, the club have to be careful to manage expectations, given the size of the club compared to some of their rivals, and that should not be forgotten.

It is for that reason, above all, that it should be made clear that Emery has done a tremendous job at the club during his time so far, and if he does stay, there won’t be calls for his exit from fans.

But if it does turn out that he heads to Aston Villa, this may not be the worst time for Villarreal to get a fresh set of eyes on a still exciting project.