Coach Calleja leaves Villarreal after finishing fifth

Madrid (AFP) –


Villarreal announced on Monday that Javi Calleja is no longer their coach despite taking the team to a fifth-placed finish in La Liga.

"Javi Calleja is no longer Villarreal CF head coach. The Yellows would like to thank him for his hard work, dedication and professionalism during his time as Yellows first-team manager," the club said in a statement.

Former Villarreal player Calleja, 42, took over as coach in September 2017 and in his first season took the side to fifth and qualification for the Europa League.

The following December he was sacked with the outfit in the relegation zone, only to return after less than two months to save them from the drop.

This season Calleja once again led Villarreal to fifth, in part thanks to a good run of results after the Spanish top-flight returned from the coronavirus suspension last month.

However Spanish media report former Sevilla, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal coach Unai Emery will take his place.

Calleja is the second major figure at the club to leave this summer, after Qatari club Al-Sadd announced on Monday that Santi Cazorla will be joining them.

The Spain midfielder bid farewell to Villarreal ahead of the team's final game of the La Liga season, a 4-0 thumping of Eibar on Sunday.

The 35-year-old had enjoyed a brilliant third spell at Villarreal after two years of horrendous injuries.

Cazorla previously made 180 appearances over six years for Arsenal and has 81 caps for Spain. He also played for Malaga and Recreativo Huelva after first joining Villarreal as a teenager.