Thomas Schaaf is no longer under consideration to take over the role of West Bromwich Albion head coach, with the former Werder Bremen boss looking set to remain in Germany.
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The 52-year-old was believed to be close to striking an agreement with the Premier League club on Wednesday night but is now no longer in the running, sources have told ESPN FC.
It is still unclear as to the reasons for Albion’s change of heart, but there is a growing feeling that a disagreement about Schaaf's coaching staff and the possibility of a job in the Bundesliga next season have conspired to see him removed from the process of being appointed Steve Clarke’s successor.
Negotiations between the Baggies and Schaaf were at an advanced stage after two rounds of negotiations, but the German is believed to want to work with former Bremen assistants Wolfgang Roff and Matthias Honerbach, with Albion only willing to allow one to join him -- to replace Kevin Keen, who departed with Clarke almost a month ago.
Schaaf, who left Bremen by mutual consent at the end of last season following a 14-year spell in charge, is currently still under contract with the club. As a result, Albion needed to agree a financial compensation package with the Bundesliga side to release him from his contract.
Sources in Germany have told ESPN FC that Schaaf is being considered as a possible replacement for Schalke boss Jens Keller, despite recent confirmation from the Royal Blues that their coach will continue in charge for the second half of the season.
Keller is under increasing pressure at Schalke after a disappointing first half of the 2013-14 campaign, and Schaaf has been strongly linked with the post for the start of next term.
It seems Schaaf would prefer to remain in Germany, where he has coached for his entire career, rather than embark on a new challenge in England.
Former Valencia, Benfica and Atletico Madrid coach Quique Flores remains under consideration for the Albion job following further meetings between the Premier League side’s five-man selection panel. The Baggies, however, are likely to face a hefty compensation payment to lure him to England.
Flores boasts the most impressive CV of the known candidates, but is currently employed by Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates on a two-million-pounds-a-year contract, and Albion chairman Jeremy Peace is reluctant to pay fees when appointing a new head coach.
The Baggies are still hopeful of resolving the situation in the next 48 hours, but caretaker boss Keith Downing is almost certain to be in charge for the club's Premier League trip to face Southampton on Saturday.