Unai Emery is an elite manager with something to put right at Aston Villa | Sid Lowe

Former Arsenal head coach has a desire to return to the Premier League after leaving Villarreal for a ‘very good challenge’ “I left home at 24 – Hondarribia, San Sebastián, Real Sociedad – and opened myself up to the world of football: carrying my suitcase, facing many difficult moments, leaving my comfort zone,” Unai Emery said. It was Tuesday morning and he was trying to explain why he was packing up again. Lorca, Almería, Valencia, Moscow, Seville, Paris, London, Vila-real and now Birmingham. The call from Aston Villa came last Friday, he said. He told Villarreal, arranging a meeting for Monday. Before leaving, he wanted to take the last of his 129 games there – a victory dedicated to José Manuel Llaneza, who died three days earlier.Emery described Llaneza, the vice-president, as one part of the “triangle” that made Villarreal what they are. At his goodbye press conference, he sat on the left of the other two: owner and president, Fernando Roig, and his son and chief executive, Fernando Roig Jr. From almost nothing, over 25 years, Llaneza and the Roig family had built Villarreal into one of Spain’s most successful clubs, a regular presence in Europe. But they hadn’t won anything until Emery came, which was exactly why Emery came, about as close to a guarantee as you can get. With him, history was made.

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