FORMER Super Eagles defender Michael Emenalo has rejected Newcastle’s offer to become its new director of football saying that the club’s new owners were unable to match his ambitious plans for the business.
Emenalo, 56, who won 14 caps for Nigeria and played in the 1994 Fifa World Cup for the Super Eagles, attracted global attention when he became sporting director at London club Chelsea on 8 July 2011. While at Stamford Bridge, Emenalo restructured the club’s academy, scouting, loan and women’s team setups and is credited as a key figure behind the club’s success having overseen the scouting and transfers of key players including Juan Mata, Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, N’Golo Kanté, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fàbregas.
On 6 November 2017, Emenalo resigned as her Chelsea technical director and at the end of that month joined Monaco as its sporting director. On October 7 this year, Newcastle became the wealthiest club in the world following its £305m acquisition by a Saudi-led consortium and as part of plans to overhaul its management structure, the club wanted Emenalo hired as its director of football.
Last week, Emenalo travelled to Saudi Arabia for talks with director Jamie Reuben and Newcastle’s Saudi owners. However, according to reports, the club’s inability to match his ambitious plans for the relegation-threatened Magpies means he has declined a deal.
After negotiations with director Amanda Staveley, in which he outlined his short and long-term ideas to improve the club, Emenalo is said to have reached the conclusion that the club’s current vision does not suit him. His rejection of their offer is not thought to be based on Newcastle’s relegation battle or lowly league position and the relationship has remained cordial, so the club could re-approach him again in future if need be..
Newcastle could now have to look further afield to fill their director of football position and may sign former Nottingham Forest director of football Frank McParland for example, on an interim basis. With an understanding that Mr Staveley personally approaching transfer targets is not ideal, the club wants to have a seasoned director overseeing player recruitment as they try to avoid the drop.