Former Paris Staint-Germain coach Emery is set to be handed the job as an experienced man ready to accept the new management set-up – and take a back seat on transfers.
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Ex-Gunners midfielder Mikel Arteta was top of the list to take over from Arsene Wenger and believed the job was his, but was wavering due to the lack of power he would have over ins and outs at the club.
However, the Arsenal hierarchy were moving towards Emery anyway over the last 24 hours and he flew into London on Monday.
The 46-year-old was locked in contract talks with Gunners chief executive Ivan Gazidis on Monday night, with an unveiling likely in the next 48 hours.
Gazidis and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, who along with head of football relations Raul Sanllehi, will be making most of the big transfer decisions at the Emirates in the future, and were instrumental in the switch to Emery.
Arteta, 36, in his two years at Manchester City had worked under a manager in Pep Guardiola who has established total control at his club.
Having little say in transfers was one of the key reasons Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus decided to stay in Turin.
Arsenal were though worried about a backlash from fans about appointing such an inexperienced manager.
The Gunners had been prepared to offer Arteta a three-year deal worth £4m a season with a one-year break clause, and the Spaniard had been keen to take the job – until the club got cold feet.
Emery, who left PSG at the end of the season when his contract ran out after winning the French title and four domestic cups in two seasons in charge, also guided Sevilla to three successive Europa League triumphs.
Arsenal are also understood to be looking to bring in a big-name former player as Emery’s No 2.
Gunners legend Thierry Henry, accompanied by his agent Darren Dein, met the club’s hierarchy on Monday.
Emery certainly appears to have some similarities to Wenger, who treated the Arsenal job as a 24 hours a day, seven days a week pursuit.
“I live football as passion and emotion,” said the Spaniard recently.
“My dad always said you have to value and respect the responsibility you’ve been given.
“When I coach, I take that responsibility seriously because I know people have trusted in me and there are thousands of supporters whose emotions are bound up in what we do.
“For every game I might have spent 12 hours on the video. Videos are very important. We work hard so that they have the best information and it has to be good.
“When I was 16, 18, I would go to school and I would have an hour of Latin, maths, history, philosophy, English, an hour of I don’t-know-what … six hours. Here you come in and you have an hour of football … an hour! And you like football! So a video is not too much to ask.”
Emery was already preparing for management during an unspectacular playing career in Spain’s second tier.
“When I was a player, I took my coaching badges even when I was still playing because I wanted to continue in the game. I had the feeling that coaching was inside me,” he said.
“I was always learning when I was a player. I stored up all the information I had so that I could use it.”
Emery’s English is far from fluent, but Arsenal are not expecting that to be a problem. In the end, he was the unanimous choice of the Gunners board after all the applicants were spoken to.
Former Gunners striker Ian Wright was scathing about the late U-turn, saying: “It’s like they’re at the sushi shop. I’ll have that. I’ll leave them. No, I’ll take that one now. What’s going on? You’d have thought that by now they would have known. “
“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 with what they’re doing. I think they’ve had the time. This is the problem I’ve got.”