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Arsenal legend blasts 'sushi shop' chiefs as Emery set to take reins



Top contender: Unai Emery is expected to be announced as the new Arsenal manager

Top contender: Unai Emery is expected to be announced as the new Arsenal manager

Bongarts/Getty Images

Top contender: Unai Emery is expected to be announced as the new Arsenal manager

Arsenal are set to appoint Unai Emery as Arsene Wenger's successor.

The 46-year-old left French side Paris St Germain at the end of this campaign following a two-year stint where he won one Ligue 1 title and four domestic cups, having led Sevilla to three successive Europa League trophies prior to that.

The Gunners are seeking their first boss since hiring Wenger in 1996 and Emery has emerged as their choice to replace him, with an announcement expected later this week.

Former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, currently part of Pep Guardiola's backroom team at Manchester City, had been heavily rumoured to be the leading candidate and Wenger said last week the Spaniard "has all the qualities to do the job".

Arteta, Luis Enrique and Juventus' Massimiliano Allegri were among those strongly linked, and Emery had only been seen as an outside bet with bookmakers since Wenger's departure was first confirmed last month.

Ian Wright, who scored 185 goals in 288 appearances for Arsenal, has accused the club's hierarchy of being indecisive.

"It's like they're at the sushi shop," he admitted last night. "You know the stuff that's going past? Yeah, I'll have that. I'll take that. I'll leave those ones. No, I'll take that one now.

"What's going on at Arsenal? Where's Unai Emery come from? I can't get it out of my head.

"You'd have thought that by now they would have known exactly what's going on. Unai Emery's now the favourite? He's going to be the manager?

"Good luck to him if he comes in and gets it. I'll back him. The fact is you just want people upstairs to be decisive."

It is understood Arsenal conducted in-depth interviews with several candidates from a long list of potential managers.

Their new boss will need to work alongside head of football relations Raul Sanllehi and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, and rumours suggested Arteta was concerned with the incoming head coach's level of control in the new structure.

However, it is believed no one pulled out of the race and the Gunners have settled on their preferred choice.

News of Emery's possible appointment came on the same day Wenger was pictured waving goodbye as he left the club's Hertfordshire training complex.

The 68-year-old stopped to pose for selfies and sign autographs in what is expected to be the final act of his departure from Arsenal.

Arsenal are also in the process of overhauling the backroom staff, with the roles of assistant Steve Bould and coach Jens Lehmann among those to be decided.

Midfielder Santi Cazorla, meanwhile, is leaving the Gunners after six years with the club.

The Spaniard joined from Malaga in 2012 and made 180 appearances, scoring 29 times.

However, now 33, Cazorla has not played since October 2016 having suffered an Achilles injury and he will depart at the expiration of his deal.

He won the FA Cup twice, scoring a free-kick in the 2014 final, which Wenger's side won 3-2, to spark a comeback after Arsenal had fallen 2-0 behind to Hull at Wembley.

"I am very sad to be leaving after so many great times," Cazorla said in a video addressing fans.

"I have loved my time with the club and I will always remember the special moments.

"I want to say thank you very much because you always gives me a special support. I am very proud to be part of this club's history and I want to wish you the best; I will miss you a lot."

Belfast Telegraph