Unai Emery is set to make his first big decision in charge of Aston Villa this week, as he looks to appoint backroom staff members in his new role at Villa Park. Taking to Bodymoor Heath from Tuesday, November 1, the Spaniard will be keen to implement his own strategy - including bringing in a few fresh faces to help him along the way.
One man in particular is expected to be crucial to Emery’s plans, with former Liverpool coach Pako Ayestaran reportedly already lined up to become his assistant manager. Speculation had been gathering pace around Ayestaran’s potential arrival - including a story in the Daily Mail - and now reports in Spain suggest he will indeed be named Emery’s number two.
Spanish outlet Onda Cero claims the 59-year-old, who is currently unemployed after a spell with Portuguese side CD Tondela, will be the first man named in a new-look backroom team. Having been Valencia’s physical trainer during the 2009/10 season, Ayestaran has already worked alongside Emery - and it is expected the pair will now be reunited in the West Midlands.
His arrival would add yet more European success to the Villa dugout, as Ayestaran is himself a former Champions League winner. During his time at Liverpool between 2004 and 2007, the Spaniard was Rafa Benitez’s assistant as the Reds enjoyed a famous Champions League final victory over AC Milan in Istanbul.
Emery meanwhile holds the record for the most Europa League trophies won by a manager, with four. The new Villa head coach led Sevilla to an unprecedented three successive titles between 2014 and 2016, before adding another to his collection with Villarreal in 2021.
Ayestaran began his career as a coach under Benitez at Osasuna, before following his boss to Extremadura, Tenerife, Valencia, and then finally Liverpool. From there he took on spells as an assistant at Valencia and Al-Ahli, before embarking on his own managerial path.
Since 2013, Ayestaran has taken charge of seven teams - Tecos, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Santos Laguna, Valencia, Las Palmas, Pachuca, and most recently Tondela. Before taking the reins at Valencia, he was also Gary Neville’s assistant.