Three of soccer's top clubs need a new coach. Unai Emery off the market after Aston Villa extension

Ahead of a summer when three of the biggest jobs in world soccer are up for grabs, Unai Emery became the latest top coach to decide to stay put.

The Aston Villa manager extended his contract until 2027 on Tuesday to stay in Birmingham at a time when Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern Munich all have looming vacancies.

In recent weeks, candidates Xabi Alonso and Julian Nagelsmann took themselves off the market by committing their futures to Bayer Leverkusen and Germany, respectively.

Emery was reportedly on the radar of Bayern and Barcelona after establishing himself as one of the shrewdest coaches in the sport with his work at Villa over the past two seasons.

Having taken over a team that was in danger of relegation in October 2022, he has guided Villa to fourth in the Premier League and into the semifinals of the Europa Conference League.

“We are enjoying our way together with Villa fans, the club owners, management and this great group of players that we are proud of,” Emery said Tuesday. “Ambition already is, and must always be, the motto of this project.”

The field of candidates for the jobs at Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern is shrinking.

Alonso was the favorite for Liverpool and Bayern, having played for both teams during a storied career. But he announced last month that he would remain at Leverkusen, the team he has gone on to lead to its first German title at the expense of Bayern.

“This is the right place for me to be, to develop as a coach,” Alonso said.

Nagelsmann, fired by Bayern last season, was a contender to return to the German giant until last week when he extended his contract with the national team through to the 2026 World Cup. He was also considered a possibility for Liverpool, which faces the daunting task of replacing Jurgen Klopp at the end of the season.

Klopp said in January he would step down after a trophy-laden spell of more than eight years on Merseyside.

Alonso seemed like a natural fit as an ex-player who has made a remarkable start to his coaching career with Leverkusen.

Sporting Lisbon coach Ruben Amorim initially replaced Alonso as the favorite for the Liverpool job, while Roberto De Zerbi has impressed at Brighton. Latest reports, however, say Feyenoord coach Arne Slot is a leading candidate.

Bayern needs a replacement for Thomas Tuchel, who is stepping down at the end of the season. His reputation has taken a hit after failing to win the title this year, but he could yet walk away a Champions League winner after leading Bayern to the semifinals of European club soccer’s elite competition.

The Champions League trophy could yet see Tuchel in the running for one of the other two top jobs available this summer.

Barcelona needs a new coach after Xavi Hernández said in January that this would be his last season.

Speculation that Emery was on the Catalan club’s radar had increased in recent days.

Emery’s reputation has only grown since taking over from Steven Gerrard when Villa was above the relegation zone only on goal difference.

Emery, who joined from Villarreal, led Villa to a seventh-place finish and qualified the team for Europe for the first time since 2010. Villa did not say at the time of his appointment in 2022 how long his original contract would run.

The 52-year-old Emery has won four Europa League trophies — three times with Sevilla and once with Villarreal — and won the French league title with Paris Saint-Germain.

He previously coached in England with Arsenal from 2018-19.

“We are thrilled and are building a sporting operation around Unai to support him with a view of returning Aston Villa, a co-founder of the English Football League as we prepare to celebrate our 150th anniversary, to its historic levels of greatness,” club chairman Nassef Sawiris said.


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