(Photo credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier)
The news of Unai Emery’s departure from Paris Saint-Germain has come as no surprise. Ever since the club’s Champions League last 16 exit at the hands of Real Madrid, the writing has been on the wall for the Basque coach.
Such are the demands at the Qatari-owned club, the fact that Emery has won six trophies since his arrival in the summer of 2016, with the seventh possible next month in the Coupe de France final against third-tier Les Herbiers, holds no weight.
Nor does the fact that the tactician’s win percentage at the club stands just shy of 80% (86 wins in 109 fixtures) - a remarkably high figure.
Under the former Valencia and Sevilla boss, the Parisians breezed through successive group stages before being met with arguably the toughest last 16 opponents in successive seasons, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Despite the stature of both clubs, exits at their hands proved unacceptable for PSG, who demand success on the very biggest stage following their years of heavy spending.
The 47-year-old now has 13 years in top-level management. Starting off at tiny Lorca, whom he guided to the second tier, narrowly missing out on promotion to the top flight. Emery then moved to another Andalusian side, Almeria, where he achieved promotion to La Liga, a first for the club. Again overachieving, they finished eighth the following year before Valencia offered him the management job.
Emery guided Los Che to sixth, third, third and third in La Liga, despite being restricted by the sale of star players David Silva, David Villa and Juan Mata. An unsuccessful jaunt to Spartak Moscow followed before a return to Spain with Sevilla where he brought his side unparalleled success in Europe.
His obsession with tactics, adaptation and work rate makes him more pragmatic than most and he may not always be the most popular with his players, but many need this tough love to excel.
The boss then showed his European pedigree at Sevilla, winning an unprecedented three successive Europa League titles, which attracted PSG to his capabilities. Emery takes pride in being a pesado - hard-working, constantly thinking, often to the point of irritating those around him. It is such a desire for perfection and small details that has brought him such success.
He has proven himself in all but one job
The fact remains that Emery has a reputation of bringing success to every club where he has gone, with the one exception of an ill-fated stint at Spartak Moscow, and that should alert him to several top European clubs who are in search of a new boss this summer, notably Arsenal and Chelsea.
It is Spanish side Real Sociedad - Emery’s boyhood club - who are his most likely destination. The Basque-native spent six years as a player at the San Sebastian club but made only five La Liga appearances, before moving to the lower leagues in Spain.
Imanol Alguacil is currently the Coach at La Real but he has been appointed on an interim basis until the end of the campaign following Eusebio Sacristan’s dismissal.
There is also likely to be a vacancy open across the Basque Country at Athletic Club Bilbao. Jose Angel Ziganda will reportedly be dismissed after just one season, with the club targeting former Sevilla boss Eduardo Berizzo. However, recent indications suggest the two are haggling over the financial package involved in the deal meaning they might look elsewhere.
One suspects Emery will continue to be coaching at the highest level in Europe for some time to come.
Does Unai Emery deserve a shot at another big job in Europe? Let us know in the comments section below.