Unai Emery locks horns with Arsenal as Aston Villa challenge Gunners for shining Bundesliga attacker

Villarreal manager Unai Emery Credit: Alamy
Villarreal manager Unai Emery Credit: Alamy

Unai Emery is preparing to do battle with former club Arsenal after Aston Villa joined the race for a Bundesliga striker.

Emery was appointed Arsenal manager in May 2018 to replace club legend Arsene Wenger. There was big pressure on the Spaniard as his predecessor enjoyed huge success during a 22-year spell in North London.

After losing his first two Premier League games as Arsenal boss, Emery turned things around by guiding them to a seven-match winning streak. And they ended up going unbeaten in 22 games in all competitions.

Arsenal were hoping to get back into the Champions League but fell behind the top four by losing three of their final five league outings that season.

Emery did take the Gunners to a Europa League final that year, but they were beaten 4-1 by rivals Chelsea in Azerbaijan.

Arsenal backed Emery that summer by breaking their club record to sign Nicolas Pepe. They also brought in David Luiz, Kieran Tierney and Dani Ceballos.

However, Arsenal failed to improve and Emery was sacked in November 2019 amid a string of poor results.

The 51-year-old has since built his reputation back up with Villarreal. He helped them to win their first ever major honour when they beat Manchester United in the Europa League final last May.

Villarreal also caught Europe’s elite clubs by surprise when reaching the Champions League semis last season. However, they were knocked out by Liverpool.

Unai Emery looking to make an impact on Prem return

Emery is now back in the Premier League after getting the Aston Villa job. He replaced Steven Gerrard on October 24.

Emery apparently felt he had done all he could with Villarreal. And he has ‘unfinished business’ in England from his time with Arsenal.

The tactician helped Villa pull off a scalp in his first game as they beat Man Utd 3-1 at home.

And he could ruin Arsenal’s transfer plans next year, too. Mikel Arteta wants to strengthen his attacking options and is hopeful Arsenal can sign Marcus Thuram from Borussia Monchengladbach.

The Frenchman is in brilliant form, having bagged 12 goals in 16 appearances so far this campaign.

According to reports coming out of Italy, Arsenal are leading the race to capture Thuram. And he could be available for as little as £25million in January due to his Gladbach contract expiring at the end of the season.

Aston Villa and Arsenal both want Marcus Thuram

However, Arsenal will have to overcome Emery and Villa when it comes to Thuram’s signing. As per Sport Witness, who cite German source Bild, Villa are big admirers of the 25-year-old and hope to land him before Arsenal. This will see Emery lock horns with his former side.

Thuram is putting in some top displays this season. And this is seeing him ‘advertise himself in almost every game’ for Gladbach.

Their boss, former Norwich manager Daniel Farke, has spoken openly about his desire to retain Thuram for the full season.

However, if Gladbach do not resolve his contract situation quickly, then they will have to face up to reality and sell him.

Sport Witness suggest the in-form attacker could be on the move for even less than £25m. This means he represents a transfer steal for either Villa or Arsenal.

Thuram will have to decide between game time and European football when it comes to his potential Premier League switch.

He will play more if he goes to Villa due to Arsenal’s great options in attack. But if Thuram wishes to play in Europe, then Arsenal will be his best bet.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have begun talks over the arrival of an impressive winger and Fabrizio Romano says the discussions are going ‘positively’.

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