Everton are reportedly moving closer to the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti, even though they say no contract offer has been made in their search for a new manager.
The 60-year-old Italian, who won the double with Chelsea in 2010, is the heavy favourite to replace Marco Silva at Goodison Park after being sacked at Napoli last week.
Sky Sports report that he is expected to be confirmed as manager by Thursday or Friday on a four-and-a-half-year deal, but the Toffees, who are in Carabao Cup quarter-final action against Leicester on Wednesday night, issued an update on Monday night.
“In the 11 days since Marco Silva left the club, the Everton board has been working to recruit a new permanent manager – and has held meetings with a number of candidates,” the club said.
“We can confirm that thus far no contract offer has been made and no candidate has chosen to withdraw from the process.
“While the club is keen to confirm a new permanent manager as soon as possible, the only important duty is that the right appointment is made.
“While our process continues, Duncan Ferguson will remain as caretaker manager and will take charge of the side for Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup quarter-final against Leicester City.”
Following the sacking of Silva on December 5, Ferguson has been in charge for the club’s last two Premier League matches – a 3-1 home win over Chelsea and a 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Sunday.
Former Everton striker Ferguson has distanced himself from taking the job on a permanent basis, but he will be in charge for a third-successive match with the visit of the Foxes.
The appointment of Ancelotti, should Everton complete the deal, would be a major coup for the Merseyside club.
Ancelotti is one of only three bosses to have won the Champions League three times – twice with AC Milan and once with Real Madrid – as well as winning domestic titles in Italy, England, France, Spain and Germany.
A popular figure at Stamford Bridge, Ancelotti was sacked despite finishing runner-up in the Premier League in his second season in charge.
He has since managed Paris St Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich before a troubled start to his second term at Napoli came to an end last week.
Meanwhile, Ferguson has challenged the Everton faithful to rouse themselves again at a sold-out Goodison Park for Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup clash.
“After the Chelsea result and that atmosphere at the ground, which was incredible, I’m sure they’ll want to go again on Wednesday and for us all to pull together again,” the 47-year-old Scot told everton.tv.
“We need them to deliver. Leicester are a great team, very strong in the transition, and they’re going to be a really tough test.
“But we’re at Goodison, we’re at the fortress, and we need to make it a bear pit.”
Gylfi Sigurdsson and France international Djibril Sidibe missed out on Sunday through illness and will be assessed, while Lucas Digne is unlikely to feature after sustaining a groin injury at Old Trafford.