Newcastle want to appoint Emery as soon as this week in time for Brighton game

Newcastle United have identified former Arsenal manager Unai Emery as their number one target for Steve Bruce's replacement.

It's understood that the Magpies' new Saudi owners are willing to pay a substantial transfer fee to bring Emery to Tyneside and an agreement could be struck before Saturday's game against Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Spaniard is currently managing Villareal, and last season guided them Europa League glory after beating Manchester United on penalties in the final.

More than two weeks have passed since Bruce's sacking and a number of high-profile names have been linked to the Newcastle job including Erik ten Hag, Lucien Favre and Frank Lampard, but Emery has now emerged as the firm favourite.

According to Patrick Berger of German outlet Sport1 , Newcastle want Emery in the hot seat before the end of this month's international break and are prepared to buy him out of his current contract, which runs until 2023, to make that happen.

The 49-year-old already has Premier League experience following an ill-fated spell at Arsenal.

Emery arrived in England in 2018 with an impressive CV, having won Ligue 1 with PSG as well three Europa League titles in a row with Sevilla, but struggled to make the same impact in north London, and was replaced by Mikel Arteta less than a year-and-a-half later.

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Newcastle find themselves in a precarious position after failing to win any of their opening 10 league matches, and a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea over the weekend has left them six points adrift of safety.

The club's new mega-rich owners will understandably be desperate to spend big in January to bolster their squad, but there are still 10 matches to play before then, making the appointment of their next head coach all the more vital.

"We are in a relegation battle. There's no question about that," interim manager Greame Jones said.

"We need to face it like men, stick together and believe we'll come through. The truth is, it maybe needs a fresh face in order to get that."

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