Unai Emery explains Newcastle United snub, PIF project and difference to 'hard work' Arsenal
Following the £300million takeover of Newcastle by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, Emery was heavily linked with the vacant head coach role at St James’s Park following Steve Bruce’s dismissal.
Ultimately a move didn’t come to fruition as Eddie Howe was appointed as Bruce’s replacement.
But the current Villarreal head coach has admitted the project on Tyneside did appeal to him as he gave it some consideration.
“The Newcastle project is an attractive project – something to build, different to Arsenal,” Emery told The Athletic.
“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.”
Emery spent a year-and-a-half at Arsenal as he guided them to fifth in the Premier League and a Europa League final in his only full season in charge. He was sacked the following campaign after a seven game winless run.
But he has enjoyed success since returning to his home country with Villarreal. In his first season back in Spain, he won the Europa League for the fourth time in his managerial career.
This season, Emery has helped guide Villarreal to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, beating Italian giants Juventus 3-0 in Turin last month.
And it was Villarreal’s place in the Champions League that proved too difficult to walk away from back in November.
While the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss hasn’t ruled out a return to England, he insists he’s happy in his job at El Madrigal.
“The Premier League is an attractive league for all us coaches,” Emery added.
“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.
“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.”
Emery is currently preparing his squad for a crucial Champions League quarter-final first leg match at home to Bayern Munich on Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, Newcastle are looking to end a run of three straight Premier League defeats when they host Europa League chasing Wolverhampton Wanderers at St James’s Park on Friday night (8pm kick-off).