Crisis-stricken Everton's protracted managerial search looks no closer to reaching its conclusion, with Ralf Rangnick signing a new contract at RB Leipzig and the Republic of Ireland reportedly confident of retaining the services of Martin O'Neill.
The big-spending Toffees sacked Ronald Koeman after 16 months in October following a run of five defeats in nine Premier League matches that left them in the relegation zone. David Unsworth has since been in caretaker charge but his hopes of earning the job on a full-time basis appear to be all but over after his woeful record was extended to just one win in seven matches courtesy of emphatic back-to-back defeats to Atalanta and Southampton.
With Watford refusing to part company with Marco Silva despite the promise of a hefty compensatory sum, Everton have been unable to secure their primary target and a potential solution does not seem forthcoming despite majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri's recent assertion that an appointment was "close".
It was reported last week that Leipzig sporting director Rangnick, who was initially interviewed by Everton chairman Bill Kenwright in 2013 following the departure of David Moyes only to lose out to Roberto Martinez, was one other possible candidate approached.
However, he was said to be hopeful of renewing his contract with the Bundesliga runners-up and chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff subsequently revealed that he expected such an agreement to be reached ahead of schedule.
That deal has now been confirmed, with the former Schalke and Hoffenheim coach extending his deal by a further two years until 2021.
"I'm very pleased that my future lies with this great club. It's been a fantastic development so far and I'm sure there's much more to come yet," Rangnick said. "Together with Oliver Mintzlaff and our team I would like to further develop the club in the coming years.
"The decision to extend my contract is also a commitment to this beautiful city, in which I feel very comfortable."
O'Neill has recently emerged as the surprise bookies favourite to succeed Koeman after topping a three-man shortlist that also supposedly included Unsworth and former West Bromwich Albion chief Tony Pulis.
However, the Irish Independent now report that the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) are positive that the verbal agreement reached over a two-year contract extension in October is binding following discussions held last week.
"The contract is agreed and it is just a question of signing it," said FAI honorary treasurer Eddie Murray. "As of now, there is no reason to believe that he won't. As far as I am concerned we have an agreement with him and we expect him to sign."
O'Neill said he would have to think about his future after Ireland were trounced 5-1 on aggregate by Denmark in their two-legged World Cup play-off tie earlier this month.