Emotional farewell as Unai Emery leaves Villarreal for Aston Villa

ITV News Central's Sports Correspondent Dan Salisbury-Jones reports on Unai Emery's emotional farewell to Villarreal.

An emotional Unai Emery struggled to hold back the tears as he said farewell to Villarreal today.

Unai joined Villarreal in 2020 and led the club to win the Europa League in 2020/21 after they beat Manchester United in the final. He also managed the team to the semi-final of the Champions League before Liverpool stripped them of a place in the final. But Villarreal doesn't seem to be following the same trajectory it once had. And this is no longer in the hands of Unai Emery.

Speaking about his time at Villarreal, Unai said: “I am very grateful to Villarreal CF, the president and Fernando. I am also grateful to José Manuel Llaneza, who will always be in my memory.

"I am also grateful to all the people who are part of the club, the people and the fans. For all those moments we have shared, which have been precious.”

After two and a half years in the Yellows’ dugout, Emery has decided to take on a new project.

“I've had two and a half very nice years here. I've felt at home at heart, but I carry the profession inside me.

"Now I have a new opportunity, just like when I came here. I thought I should take it as a different sporting challenge,” Emery acknowledged."

While Aston Villa are "delighted to announce the appointment of Unai Emery as the club’s new Head Coach", Villarreal thank him for everything he has done for them.

Roig: “We appreciate his great work”

Villarreal president Fernando Roig thanked Unai Emery for his work and professionalism during his time at the helm of the Yellows.

He said: “We thank him for everything he has done with us. He has done a great job.

"With him, we have been champions of the Europa League and we have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.”

Fernando: “We will find a good solution”

Villarreal CEO Fernando Roig Negueroles acknowledged that Emery's departure is a setback, but stressed that the club is already working on a replacement.

“It's caught us off guard, but it's something that football clubs live with. Emery is a great coach, but we are already working on finding the best solution," he said.

Unai will be back in the Premier League almost three years since he was sacked from Arsenal.

In his first season at Arsenal, his side went 22 games without losing.

He took the club to the final of the Europa League but eventually, after 18 months as manager, he was sacked following a run of seven losses in a row.

He will start at Villa Park on November 1, once his work permit has been finalised, with the team currently placed 15th in the Premier League.

Emery was offered a place back in the Premier League last year but rejected a move to Newcastle United to continue Villarreal's Champions League journey to the semi-final.

Now though, his move to Aston Villa seems like perfect timing but despite this "new opportunity", he struggled to hold back the tears during his final farewell with Spanish side.

Because of his success, he was given a much more dignified exit than Steven Gerrard was from Aston Villa.