London (AP) — Arsenal hired Unai Emery as Arsene Wenger’s successor on Wednesday in the Premier League club’s first managerial appointment in 22 years.
The 46-year-old Spaniard will not enjoy the same authority as Wenger built up at Arsenal, being handed the title of head coach rather than manager.
Arsenal backed off from a gamble on former player Mikel Arteta, who is part of Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff at Premier League champions Manchester City. Instead, Arsenal opted for an established coach — and one who has constantly delivered trophies at Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain.
“Several things stood out during his interview and the entire process; his football knowledge, energy, determination and love of the game,” Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke said. “His familiarity with our club and our players, the Premier League and the game in Europe were all very impressive. He shares our vision to move forward, to build on the platform created by Arsene Wenger and help this club enjoy greater success.”
Emery has the task of restoring Arsenal to the Champions League — and to ultimately deliver the club’s first Premier League title since 2004. But he picks up a London team at a low after finishing sixth in the league — the lowest in Wenger’s reign.
“I am thrilled to be joining one of the great clubs in the game,” Emery said. “Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium, the way the club is run. I’m very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal’s history.”
Emery left PSG earlier this month after two years, a consequence of the failure to carry the dominance on the domestic stage into the Champions League. He has struggled to impose his authority on a talent-packed squad featuring Neymar.
A former midfielder with Real Sociedad, Emery coached Valencia from 2008-12 before taking charge of Sevilla in 2013, following a brief spell at Spartak Moscow.
Emery’s reputation was elevated after guiding Sevilla to three straight Europa League titles, but he couldn’t make an impact in the continent’s more illustrious competition.
PSG became the first team in the Champions League to be eliminated from the knockout stage after winning the first match 4-0, losing 6-1 at Barcelona in the return leg of the last 16 in 2017.
PSG failed to reach the quarterfinals again in Emery’s final season, beaten home and away by Real Madrid.
Arsenal, though, are sure they have a “serial winner.”
“Unai has an outstanding track record of success throughout his career, has developed some of the best young talent in Europe and plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly,” Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said. “His hard-working and passionate approach and his sense of values on and off the pitch make him the ideal person to take us forward.”