Unai Emery, the Villarreal manager, stands between his former club and them saving their season in the Europa League

It came as a surprise to Mikel Arteta when, soon after his appointment at Arsenal, he heard his predecessor would like a word. Handover chats are not unknown in football but Unai Emery’s tenure had ended in some frustration and, besides, the two men had rarely met properly. A mutual friend set up the call and Arteta appreciated the gesture.“He was very honest, very open and I was very grateful because it’s not something that is very common,” he said. “It came from him as well, which is unusual.”

Emery broke the ice by asking whether Arteta might require his recently vacated London home, which eventually found a taker among Arsenal’s squad. But he had advice to impart as well and held no qualms about mixing light and shade. “I just wanted to tell him about my experience there, what I lived when I was there, what I thought could be positive for him,” Emery said on Wednesday. “Maybe I told him one or two things that could be improved, in a naturalistic and personal way.”

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