Getty Images

Unai Emery has rejected the chance to become the next Newcastle manager, opening the door for former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe to take the helm at St. James' Park.

Emery had been in advanced discussions with the Newcastle hierarchy over the past 48 hours with the Premier League club prepared to activate the $7 million release clause in his contract that would have secured his release from Villarreal. Talks advanced sufficiently that he broached potential targets for the January window to his prospective employees with reports in the north east suggesting that he could be in the dugout for Saturday's Premier League game against Brighton.

Emery has confirmed that those conversations did indeed take place but he has opted to remain with Villarreal, who sit 13th in La Liga and second in their Champions League group after last night's 2-0 win over Young Boys.

"No matter how much noise there was yesterday in another country, within the club there was transparency and loyalty with the Roig family and with my squad, which is maximum and for me it is the most important thing.

"Villarreal CF is my home and I am 100 percent committed," Emery said in a statement. "Honestly, I am grateful for the interest of a great club, but even more grateful to be here and that is why I communicated to [Villarreal president] Fernando Roig my decision to want to continue being part of this project because of the commitment and respect that I perceive from the club and from my players , which is mutual and reciprocal.

"I want to thank the fans for the support they have always shown me. On Sunday we have a very important game [at home to Getafe] and I hope that together we can achieve victory."

Sources have indicated to CBS Sports that Howe, who has been out of work since leaving Bournemouth on their relegation from the Premier League in May 2020, was identified as Newcastle's fall back option should their pursuit of Emery collapse. Further talks are expected to take place over the 43-year-old's potential appointment in the coming days, though it remains to be seen whether the new ownership consortium, led by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, opt to reconsider other targets including Frank Lampard.

First team coach Graeme Jones has been serving as interim head coach since Steve Bruce was sacked last month and it now seems increasingly likely he will be in charge when Newcastle travel to the Amex Stadium to face Brighton on Saturday.