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Arsenal boss Unai Emery: what you need to know

"I worked with him for three years," said one of Unai Emery's former charges. "I couldn't handle a fourth." UEFA.com profiles the new Arsenal boss.

Unai Emery after completing his hat-trick of UEFA Europa League final wins in 2016
Unai Emery after completing his hat-trick of UEFA Europa League final wins in 2016 ©Getty Images

Unai Emery has been appointed the new manager at Arsenal. The 46-year-old may not be that well known in north London, but he is a big name in UEFA club competitions having won the UEFA Europa League in three successive seasons with Sevilla – a first in the competition. UEFA.com talks through his achievements and style.


An unexceptional midfielder whose career was ended by a knee injury, Emery steered Lorca into the Spanish second division for the first time in 2006, and then took Almería into the top flight in 2007. He made his continental debut as Valencia coach from 2008-12, and also had an ill-fated spell in Russia before taking charge of Sevilla in January 2013.

The Basque led Sevilla to success in the 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 editions of the UEFA Europa League, then left for Paris where in two seasons he lifted two French Cups, two League Cups and this term's Ligue 1 title. He arrives in England having won at least one trophy a season since 2013/14.

How do his sides play?

Neymar and Emery celebrate title success
Neymar and Emery celebrate title success©AFP/Getty Images

Emery showed tactical flexibility during his Sevilla reign, regularly integrating new players into a team with a heavy turnover, often preferring a 4-2-3-1 but not averse to switching to 4-3-3 when required. At Paris, he used similar formations, the latter more prominent this past season with the dream trident of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé.

He likes to push full-backs on – as illustrated by right-back Coke's double in the 2016 UEFA Europa League final against Liverpool – with the wide men drifting inside and helping out the midfield. He also got the best out of strikers Carlos Bacca and Kevin Gameiro, which will make happy reading for Arsenal fans, with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang primed to spearhead the attack.

When he replaced Laurent Blanc at Paris in 2016, he was at pains to create an egalitarian spirit in the squad. Reputations may count for little when he signs in at Arsenal: expect players to be judged solely on their work in training and during games.

They say

How Emery's Sevilla won the 2014 #UEL final

"He's obsessed with football – it's practically an illness. He's one of the best managers I've had. I worked with him for three years ... I couldn't handle a fourth!"
Joaquín, former Valencia winger

"He's even more than passionate. He's totally committed, even during the week; it's not just during the game. In training he's fully into it, and that's what gives us that determination to overcome things when we're behind, or when we have to score vital goals."
Kevin Gameiro, former Sevilla forward

"I'm a bit sad to see him leave. He is a very good person."
Kylian Mbappé, Paris striker

He says

How Emery's Sevilla won it again 2015

"The way I'd describe myself is that I want to be competitive. And I want the team to be competitive. What does that mean? Playing whatever way takes us closer to victory."

"I like 'dreaming awake'. I like having my mind open to good things. Like I say to players, first and foremost you've got to like football. More than that, you need to feel passion for what you do, so when you get up in the morning, you are grateful for the chance to do what you love and to make people happy."

"There are jobs where you enjoy suffering. Coaches and players know this is a job where you find enjoyment in struggling to overcome an opponent – it's a battle and at times it's not very pleasant. It's nice when you're doing a lot better than your opponent but when it's a very evenly-matched, fiercely-contested fight, that's when it becomes about enjoyment through pain."

How Sevilla made it three in a row in 2016

"The team have to press aggressively – I like my teams to do that. I also like my teams to dictate games through controlling the ball."

"The Champions League is nice and we want to play in it, but you meet the very top teams in that competition and they can beat you. When you are in the Europa League, you know you can win it."

"For every game I might have spent 12 hours just on the video. Videos are very important. We work hard so the players have the best information and it has to be a good video: in an hour the players have to understand everything you've seen in 12."