Arsenal boss Unai Emery will be given all club's resources in transfer market - Ivan Gazidis
LONDON -- Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has promised to back new head coach Unai Emery with "all the resources of the club" in the transfer market, and said the Spaniard earned the job with the help of an "extremely impressive" interview and "a chemistry between us."
Emery will be tasked with turning around the fortunes of a team that only finished sixth in the Premier League last season, their worst campaign of former boss Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign. Gazidis acknowledged that it's "the biggest challenge this club will face," but that discussions with Emery over how much of the squad needs to be overhauled have just begun.
Reports have said Arsenal only have a transfer budget of £50 million before player sales, but Gazidis refused to comment on how much the club can spend this summer. However, he insisted that all available funds will be at Emery's disposal.
"All the money has always been available for our manager. And that will continue to be," said Gazidis, who presented Emery to the media on Wednesday after leading the effort to find Wenger's successor. "All of the resources of the club will be available for Unai to develop the team."
The Arsenal CEO outlined the search by saying eight candidates were given interviews but insisted that Emery was the club's unanimous "first choice" despite widespread reports that former club captain Mikel Arteta was close to getting the job.
"We had some clear criteria that we were looking for in our selection. The first was aggressive, entertaining football. A personality that fit with Arsenal's values, and also a record of developing players, and in particular young players, through detailed tactical instructions. And also through cultural demands, pushing players and demanding more from them," Gazidis said.
"It was in the personal meetings that Unai was incredibly impressive. He came in extraordinarily well-prepared, with a detailed knowledge of Arsenal Football Club. He had an analysis to share with us not just of his ways of working, his ways of coaching, the team of people that he works with. But he had an analysis of all our of individual players, their qualities and how he thinks he can help them develop individually and collectively.
"Above all of that was the chemistry between us and the feeling for football in the room. Unai has an energy and passion, a competitive energy. And it's this combination of detail, hard work, passion and a love for football and will to win that made us feel that this fit was exactly right for Arsenal."
Gazidis began his news conference by poking fun at the newspaper reports claiming Arteta was set to be the new manager and said Emery's first interview was on May 10. The three-man search committee of Gazidis, recruitment head Sven Mislintat and director of football relations Raul Sanllehi then made a "unanimous" recommendation to the board last Friday, he said.
After meeting with Emery in London on Monday, Gazidis and the former Paris Saint-Germain manager took an evening flight to Atlanta to meet with majority owner Stan Kroenke and his son Josh before flying back late Tuesday.
"I know that [Emery] came as a bit of a surprise and perhaps there was one or two rewrites necessary. But as I said in the beginning of the process, those who know won't speak and those who speak won't know," Gazidis said.
"All of those eight people that we targeted were interested in the position. All of those eight people took part in extensive in-person interviews with the three of us. And none of them at any stage withdrew their interest. We were in the fortunate position in this process of being able to make our first choice. And that's what we did."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.