Former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini appeared to move a step closer to taking over at West Ham after Hebei China Fortune confirmed he was leaving the Chinese Super League club.
The Irons are looking to make a permanent appointment after opting not to keep David Moyes on.
The Scot’s short-term contract ended at midnight on Sunday after West Ham’s final game of the season, a 3-1 win over his former side Everton which saw them finish 13th in the Premier League.
"I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to David Moyes and his staff for achieving the target of keeping West Ham United in the Premier League." - Joint-Chairman David Sullivanhttps://t.co/GOROcGkLyn— West Ham United (@WestHam) May 16, 2018
West Ham joint-chairman David Sullivan said the club needed to move in a “different direction” with a “high-calibre figure”, and reports in Chile on Friday suggested Pellegrini had become the leading contender.
Pellegrini coached at Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga in Spain before taking charge of Manchester City in 2013, going on to win the 2013/14 Premier League title as well as the League Cup twice before his departure.
The 64-year-old Chilean left the Ethiad Stadium in June 2016, where he was succeeded by Pep Guardiola, but was soon back in work at Hebei.
Despite being under contract through to the end of 2018 and with a reported seven million US Dollars (£5.3m) release clause, Hebei confirmed on Saturday Pellegrini was no longer in his role.
In a statement on their Weibo account, Hebei said: “We have reached an agreement with Manuel Pellegrini that he will no longer serve as team manager.
“Here, the club would like to express its sincere gratitude to Mr Pellegrini for his contributions and we wish him well in his future work life.”
Pellegrini was reportedly set to travel to London over the weekend for further talks, with initial contact having taken place via representatives.
Assistant coaches Alan Irvine, Stuart Pearce and Billy McKinlay have also all left the London Stadium, allowing the new manager a clean slate.
Hammers joint-chairman Sullivan said on Thursday: “We are already taking steps to identify and recruit the manager we believe can take West Ham United forward in line with our ambitions.”