Newcastle hope to appoint ex-Arsenal boss Unai Emery as manager before Saturday’s game against Brighton.

The 49-year-old, currently in charge of Spanish side Villarreal, has emerged as the leading candidate as United’s new owners look to replace Steve Bruce. 

But there is still work to be done on a deal with the Spaniard, whose contract with the La Liga club runs until 2023.

Newcastle have also held talks with former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe and ex-Roma manager Paulo Fonseca. 

Emery will lead Villarreal against Young Boys in their Champions League Group F fixture on Tuesday evening, and in Monday’s pre-match news conference said he did not know anything about links with Newcastle.

In a press conference on Tuesday, though, Villareal president Fernando Roig said he was not worried about the interest in Emery and was “sure that his mind is not drifting elsewhere”. 

“Unai has a contract with us and contracts are there to be fulfilled,” Roig said. “We hope that we will be able to see that contract through until the end. I have no doubts about his professionalism in that respect.” 

Emery won the Europa League last season, beating Manchester United on penalties in the final in May.

Before his appointment at Villareal, he had an 18-month spell in charge of Arsenal before being sacked in November 2019.

In three years at Sevilla from 2013-16 he won three back-to-back Europa League titles and then joined Paris St-Germain, where he won Ligue 1 and two French Cups.

A Saudi Arabia-backed £305m takeover of Newcastle took place on 7 October and the new owners are keen to make an appointment with the club winless this season, second bottom of the Premier League table and six points from safety.

Former manager Bruce left the club by mutual consent on 20 October, with interim boss Graeme Jones taking charge of the team for the last two matches, a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace and subsequent 3-0 home defeat by Chelsea.

Unai Emery won the Europa League with Villarreal in May, beating Manchester United on penalties.

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