Unai Emery has already handed Newcastle chiefs the name of the man he hopes will be his first signing at St James’ Park, as per a report.
The former Arsenal manager is understood to be the frontrunner to succeed Steve Bruce as Magpies manager. The Spaniard – who led Villarreal to Europa League glory last season – appears to have beaten off strong competition for the job. As such, Newcastle’s new owners are likely to have to pay a £7m compensation bill to the LaLiga side.
Plenty of coaches seem to be intrigued by the prospect of leading Newcastle into a new era. Paulo Fonseca was a frontrunner for the job and had a plan to make five transformative signings in January.
He was then overtaken in the owners’ order of preference by Lucien Favre, who was said to find the job an “enticing” proposition.
Caretaker boss Graeme Jones was initially told he would be overseeing two matches in charge. Those have now passed, meaning an appointment should in theory be close.
Now, as per the Daily Express, Emery has already handed his prospective new bosses the name of his first target.
The Magpies may be second bottom of the Premier League. But in Allan Saint-Maximin, they have one of the Premier League’s elite stars, outside the top six. The Frenchman has two goals and three assists from 10 appearances this season, underlining that talent.
However, Emery recognises that the 24-year-old can’t do it all on his own. And for that reason, the Express reckons Emery will target the exciting Samuel Chukwueze to take the strain off Saint-Maximin.
Newcastle's success may be a long process
While many people are crowning Newcastle the 2023 Premier League champions, I think their road to success may take longer than what most will expect.
The Nigerian has emerged as one of LaLiga’s best wingers, scoring five times and weighing in with eight assists last season. While he has been hampered this season by injuries, he remains highly rated by the Yellow Submarine.
Indeed, despite being yet to start a game this season, prising him away from Villarreal will come with quite the cost. Rated in the £40m bracket, Newcastle will need to shatter their transfer record to bring in the 22-year-old.
However, a front three of Chukwueze, Callum Wilson and Saint-Maximin would help Emery implement his style of football at St James’ Park. It would also, many would expect, provide them with the ammunition to pull clear of relegation danger.
Unai Emery under pressure at Villarreal
Newcastle have no wins from their opening 10 Premier League games, so require a big turnaround. Finding the right coach is the first step of their long-term plan to become a major force again.
Emery would be leaving Villarreal in mid-table after their own tricky start to the season. They are 13th in La Liga after winning just two of their opening 11 games. As such, Emery is coming under a bit of pressure.
But the coach has enjoyed plenty of success in the not-too-distant past. Therefore, Newcastle believe he could be the right man to take them forwards.
And it does not seem they are willing to wait to see if he will be sacked by Villarreal. Instead, they are preparing to pay to secure his services.
During his previous job in England with Arsenal, he earned 1.85 points-per-match from 78 games after succeeding Arsene Wenger. His win rate was 55.1 per cent.
Prior to that, he managed Paris Saint-Germain between 2016 and 2018, winning one Ligue 1 title and six other trophies.
He is most famous for his success in the Europa League, though, which he won in three consecutive seasons with Sevilla earlier in his career and lifted again with Villarreal last season.