Newcastle United’s new owners are continuing to put their mark on the club and now they have set their sights on Michael Emenalo, a man whose influence is still being felt at Chelsea today.
The Magpies were taken over by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund at the start of October and, in the time since, Steve Bruce has been sacked, Eddie Howe has been appointed and the hunt for a new director of football is ongoing.
That is where Emenalo comes in, according to a report from the Telegraph.
Emenalo spent six years as technical director at Stamford Bridge between 2011 and 2017 having previously spent one season as assistant manager to Carlo Ancelotti.
The Nigerian was hugely influential during his time in west London, completely restructuring the Cobham academy as well as overseeing the transfer network that led to the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas joining the Blues.
Emenalo recently travelled to Saudi Arabia for discussions with the Newcastle owners, with multiple sources spotting the 56-year-old in Jeddah.
Ajax director Marc Overmars previously topped their list of targets for the role but Emenalo has reportedly impressed following the decision of Overmars to remain in his current position.
While he may have left Stamford Bridge four years ago to take up a role at Monaco, Emenalo’s past actions continue to prove massively influential during Thomas Tuchel’s reign today.
The Newcastle target previously spoke to the Telegraph in 2019 where he revealed that a former Chelsea manager had proposed scrapping the academy system Emenalo had worked so hard to reshape.
“I defended the academy when there was pressure and doubt and pessimism,” he said.
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“There was a time when there was a clamour to do more and a manager came in to make a presentation to say the academy was not necessary. The argument was that it takes too long, we don’t have time, we should use it to make some money here and there, and that the owner should stop pumping money into it because it seemed like a waste.
“But that wasn’t my idea and I had to fight against it. This is where I am very, very proud of the owner Roman Abramovich because of the trust he had in me and the willingness to listen to me and give the academy time. He would not abandon it.
“He believed in it and in me, and I can’t thank him enough for that.”
The positive shockwaves of that fight are still being felt at Stamford Bridge today.
Frank Lampard first started to introduce graduates from Cobham into his first team while the Blues were under a transfer ban. Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi all started to receive regular minutes in the 2019/20 campaign.
This carried into the following season, one which culminated in a Champions League triumph, with Mount providing the assist for Kai Havertz’s winner in the final.
More recently a 7-0 win against Norwich City shone a light on the quality that has reached the first team thanks to Emelano’s actions.
Mount scored a hat-trick while Hudson-Odoi and James both also found the target – Ruben Loftus-Cheek was also on hand to provide an assist.
Emelano may have left years before the graduates of the Cobham academy started to shine in the first team but, were it not for him, Tuchel would likely not have experienced the success he has enjoyed in his tenure.