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Unai Emery reveals how close he came to leaving Villarreal for Newcastle United

Emery wound up staying at Estadio de la Ceramica

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FBL-EUR-C1-VILLARREAL-TRAINING
Emery came close to a return to the Premier League
Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

Villarreal boss Unai Emery has admitted he strongly considered a move to Newcastle United earlier this season.

The Yellow Submarine were left stunned earlier this year when Emery approached president Fernando Roig to discuss a possible move to St James’ Park.

Newcastle approached Emery after sacking Steve Bruce, and it looked, for a second at least, as though Emery might agree, despite the Europe League success he achieved with Villarreal last season.

In the end, Roig convinced Emery to stay, and while the Yellows’ league form has not been great this season, it has proved a wise decision.

That’s because Villarreal are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and the prize money for reaching this stage will have far outweighed the compensation Newcastle would have been forced to pay the Yellow Submarine for Emery.

Though, in an interview with The Athletic, Emery has revealed he came pretty close to abandoning ship.

“The Newcastle project is an attractive project — something to build, different to Arsenal,” he said.

“With Arsenal, you first had to knock down the walls, which is hard work, then start to build again. Newcastle, no; it was just about building from the ground up. So it is different, and I liked the idea.

“But I was also grateful to Villarreal for the opportunity they gave me, and we were in the Champions League.

“The Premier League is an attractive league for all us coaches. So when Newcastle called me, I thought a lot about the opportunity to return to England, to a serious project.

“For me, it was a source of pride, satisfaction — and I appreciated it. The opportunity of a club like Newcastle, what it could turn out to be, it is normal to listen to the offer, to consider it.”

Levante UD v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander
Emery will face Bayern with Villarreal this week
Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

He added: “I thought about the offer and I spoke with (Villarreal president) Fernando Roig.

“But I also had to take into account that we were in the Champions League with Villarreal, mid-season. In the end, with a lot of respect for Villarreal, and a lot of respect for Newcastle, I decided to stay here. I am happy and we are doing an important job.”