Newcastle United are in talks with former Arsenal boss Unai Emery about taking the reins at St James’ Park, Goal can confirm, but ex-Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is also in the frame.
The Magpies have been without a permanent head coach since parting company with Steve Bruce on October 20.
Various candidates have been linked with the vacancy on Tyneside since then - with ambitious plans being drawn up on the back of a £300 million ($409m) takeover - and two leading contenders are now heading that queue.
Who is the favourite?
Having seen the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Lucien Favre, Paulo Fonseca and Robert Martinez generate plenty of speculation, Newcastle have narrowed their search down considerably.
Emery, who is currently in charge of La Liga side Villarreal, is now the frontrunner to fill the dugout at St James’ Park.
He is tied to a contract in Spain through to the summer of 2023, with it understood that the Magpies would need to part with around €6 million in compensation in order to land their top target.
Discussions are also ongoing with former Bournemouth manager Howe – another coach with experience of life in the English top-flight.
Emery’s managerial recordGetty Images
Emery lasted just 18 months during his previous stint in the Premier League, with Arsenal opting to sever ties with the Spaniard in November 2019.
He had taken in 78 games at the Gunners helm, overseeing 43 wins and 19 defeats, but ultimately paid the price for inconsistency and an inability to push the north London heavyweights back into top-four contention.
While the 49-year-old flopped in England, his record in Spanish football makes for impressive reading.
Four years at Valencia between 2008 and 2012 saw his stock rise, while it was with Sevilla that he really made a name for himself.
Emery delivered three Europa League triumphs across three-and-a-half years in Andalusia, with those exploits enough to earn him a chance at Paris Saint-Germain.
A Ligue 1 title and various domestic trophies were collected during a two-year stint in France, but he left in 2018 to be replaced by current Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.
A testing spell at Arsenal was then taken in before returning to his roots in La Liga with Villarreal, where another Europa League crown has been claimed and a reputation rebuilt.
|Lorca Deportiva (2004-06)||70||34||20||48.6|
|Spartak Moscow (2012)||26||12||10||46.2|
Howe’s managerial record
Still only 43 years of age, Howe has been in the management game since 2008.
The vast majority of his coaching career to date has been spent at Bournemouth, with a brief spell taken in at Burnley between January 2011 and October 2012.
It was with the Cherries that Howe earned a reputation as one of the best young managers in England, as he guided the club from League Two to the Premier League.
He walked away from the Vitality Stadium in the summer of 2020 after being unable to prevent Bournemouth from slipping out of the top tier and back into the Championship.
Across his two spells, Howe took in 458 games in charge of the Cherries, collecting 194 wins, but he has been out of work now for over a year.
What have Villarreal had to say?
When asked about Newcastle's interest in Emery and whether he's worried, Villarreal president Fernando Roig told Goal: "I don't think so. I think Unai Emery is a great professional and at the moment he is 100 percent focused on tonight's game with Young Boys in the Champions League.
"I am sure that his mind is not drifting elsewhere. I know Unai has a contract with us and contracts are there to be fulfilled. We hope that we will be able to see that contract through until the end.
"Today is an important day for us and so is next Sunday [against Getafe] as well. We have got two very complicated matches ahead of us this week. I am sure that he is going to be an excellent professional and I have no doubts about his professionalism in that respect."