Aston Villa pinpoint former ‘Big Six’ manager as Mauricio Pochettino alternative; initial talks underway

Unai Emery and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Aston Villa are continuing to search for a new manager in case Steven Gerrard fails to improve the team, and club chiefs have reportedly landed on Unai Emery.

Gerrard joined Aston Villa in November last year following a hugely successful period with Rangers in Scotland. Villa have backed Gerrard with several big signings, including the likes of Diego Carlos and Lucas Digne.

However, the former Liverpool and England midfielder hasn’t got Aston Villa challenging for the top 10 yet. Last season they finished 14th on 45 points.

And things haven’t gone particularly well this term. Villa have won just twice in seven league outings, putting them 15th.

The Villans began looking for Gerrard’s potential successor in late August. And they are apparently looking into capturing Mauricio Pochettino.

The Argentine is a free agent after his sacking by Paris Saint-Germain in early July. He was linked with the Nice role but this move hasn’t gone through.

Pochettino is thought to be ‘very open’ to ‘transforming’ Villa and helping them potentially fight for European competition, which is what the owners want.

In addition, reports claim the former Tottenham boss is ‘serious’ about returning to the Premier League in the near future.

Villa look up Pochettino alternative

Villa will keep an eye on Pochettino in case Gerrard fails to turn things around. However, Pochettino isn’t the only manager under consideration.

As per Football Insider, the West Midlands outfit are also eyeing up Emery.

After successful spells at Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, Emery took charge of Arsenal in summer 2018. However, he couldn’t replicate his previous success at the Emirates and was sacked by Arsenal in November 2019. This came amid a seven-match winless run.

The Spaniard got back into management two years ago by linking up with Villarreal. He guided the club to their first ever major trophy in 2021, as they beat Manchester United in the final of the Europa League.

Emery also worked wonders to take Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals last season. They beat Juventus and Bayern Munich on the way to the last four but couldn’t overcome Liverpool.

Emery’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed and Villa could move for him if they end up parting ways with Gerrard.

Preliminary discussions with Unai Emery and Pochettino begin

Initial talks with Emery and Pochettino have already begun. Football Insider state Villa have started to ‘sound out’ the availability of the pair, which means contact with their representatives is on.

Emery’s Villarreal contract runs until the end of the season. This means it shouldn’t cost Villa too much to capture him, should they wish to do so immediately.

Plus, Villa have far more financial power than their Spanish counterparts. This means a move is likely if Villa chiefs make Emery their top target.

Pochettino may be slightly easier to get given the fact he is without a club. This means Villa don’t have to negotiate with a rival team before getting a new manager through the door.

Both coaches will demand big wages though, given their prior success.

Emery won the Ligue 1 title with PSG prior to his spell at Villarreal. Pochettino also won the French title before getting the sack.

Meanwhile, Manchester United have found out Villa’s stance on the potential sale of goalkeeper Emi Martinez.