The former Arsenal boss is back in the Premier League and could look to raid his old club in the transfer window.
Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery is back in the Premier League after being announced as the new boss of Aston Villa on Monday evening. It marks a return to England for the Spaniard nearly three years since he left the Emirates Stadium after a difficult start to his second season in charge.
He then went on to manage Villarreal in La Liga, whom he guided to a Europa League triumph followed by an unlikely run to the Champions League semi-finals. Amidst all of that was an offer to join Newcastle United in November 2021, though he turned that down at the time.
So almost another year later, he has taken the jump back to the Premier League with the Villains, who are hopeful of not just a survival campaign but potential success in Europe in years to come. Some of that could see the Spanish boss make a number of signings to transform the squad.
In his pursuit of doing that, Emery may look to raid his former club with a few signings when the market opens in January. With that said, here’s a look at some options the manager could look at.
Arsenal academy graduate Ainsley Maitland-Niles is yet to have an impact on the first team in a way he’d like, struggling to find a way into the side. With that in mind, he was sent out on loan to Southampton for the season, with his contract expiring at the end of the season.
The 25-year-old offers versatility, something that could be more than useful to Emery’s style of play across the pitch. Having already worked with the boss and being on a free transfer, it could be enough to see a potential return.
Albert Sambi Lokonga
Sambi Lokonga is yet to get his chance at Arsenal since making the switch from Anderlecht last summer, often playing in cup games rather than in the league. The Belgian will likely be desperate to prove himself to force his way into the national side, making the lack of time at the club all the more difficult.
The 23-year-old has been likened to Yaya Toure by former Manchester City star and manager Vincent Kompany, though he may need a loan switch or even a permanent deal away to prove that statement. A switch to Villa could well provide that for Emery, given some of their midfield troubles.
If Aston Villa and Emery really wanted to show their ambition, making a move for Kieran Tierney would be one of the best ways of doing just that. The Scotsman signed for Arsenal under the Spanish coach, going on to become a key player within the side in his tenure.
He has since fallen out of favour in the starting lineup, with Oleksandr Zinchenko and Takehiro Tomiyasu currently preferred at left-back. It could take a huge move to land his signature at the Midlands club, however, it may not be completely impossible.