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Exclusive: Michael Emenalo, former Chelsea technical director, rejects role at Newcastle United

·4-min read
Michael Emenalo, Technical director at Chelsea is seen prior to the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Chelsea at Vitality Stadium on April 8, 2017 in Bournemouth - Exclusive: Michael Emenalo, former Chelsea technical director, rejects role at Newcastle United - GETTY IMAGES
Michael Emenalo, Technical director at Chelsea is seen prior to the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Chelsea at Vitality Stadium on April 8, 2017 in Bournemouth - Exclusive: Michael Emenalo, former Chelsea technical director, rejects role at Newcastle United - GETTY IMAGES

Former Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo has turned down an offer to become Newcastle United’s director of football after the club could not match his ambitious plans.

As first revealed by Telegraph Sport, Emenalo had emerged as the leading contender for the post after travelling to Saudi Arabia for talks but has now decided the role and Newcastle’s plans, in their current form, are not right for him.

Other than being the first choice of Newcastle’s Saudi backers, Emenalo is believed to have had the support of director Jamie Reuben. But, following detailed negotiations with director Amanda Staveley, the 56-year-old has decided to decline the club’s offer.

The news is a big blow for the club and head coach Eddie Howe - whose appointment Emenalo had been supportive of - and will raise question marks over Newcastle’s complicated ownership structure - particularly given Unai Emery also turned down an approach before Howe was hired.

Emenalo made presentations to Newcastle on his short-term - focusing on avoiding relegation from the Premier League - and long-term plans. He was confident that, over time, he could help move the club towards the top of English football.

But a delay in negotiations and differences in ideas over the post made it clear that Newcastle do not share the same vision as Emenalo. His decision to turn down the club’s offer is not related to their fight against relegation nor Premier League position.

Emenalo spent seven years at Chelsea, working under the likes of Jose Mourinho (R) and Antonio Conte - GETTY IMAGES
Emenalo spent seven years at Chelsea, working under the likes of Jose Mourinho (R) and Antonio Conte - GETTY IMAGES

There has been no fall-out or disagreement between Emenalo and Newcastle, who could make a new approach to him in the future, but the current offer he received was not deemed to be suitable.

Newcastle are now faced with having to look elsewhere for a director of football and could even make a short-term appointment to get them through to the end of the season, with Frank McParland one such option.

Telegraph Sport reported how, with under a month to go until the transfer window opens, Staveley has been approaching potential transfer targets herself.

That will raise alarm bells among fans who believe the club needs an experienced director of football to target the right players and hold negotiations, with Newcastle in danger of being relegated to the Championship.

Emenalo is widely regarded as one of the best operators in his field in football, chiefly for his work at Chelsea where he spent 10 hugely successful years.

During Emenalo’s time with the club, Chelsea won the Premier League title three times, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Europa League and the Champions League.

He was one of the club’s key decision makers in the appointment of managers, working with 10 during his time at Stamford Bridge, and also played a big role in first-team recruitment.

It was Emenalo who identified Belgium as a blossoming market and, with his scouts, spotted and signed talents such as Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois, while also helping to convince Eden Hazard to later join Chelsea.

Emenalo also played a big part in the development and the success of Chelsea’s academy with graduates such as Mason Mount, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek establishing themselves as first-team regulars and others, such as Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi, earning the club millions.

Emenalo’s philosophy on loaning players out has also proved to be revolutionary, with Chelsea profiting financially and in a sporting sense from his belief that older academy graduates should play at least 45 games to get them ready for the rigours of first-team football in the Premier League.

Chelsea’s so-called "loan army" was initially met with great scepticism and criticism, but it has since been copied by a number of top clubs around the world.

After resigning from his position at Chelsea in November 2017, Emenalo later experienced a more difficult spell at Monaco, joining the club at a time of great upheaval at the end of a successful cycle for the Ligue 1 club.

Emenalo was forced to cope with the sale of high-profile players and the coming and going of coaches before eventually leaving Monaco by mutual consent just over two years ago.

But, given the deep-rooted problems Monaco experienced throughout the club, Emenalo’s reputation within football was not tainted by his spell in Ligue 1 and he has since received a number of offers to return to work.

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