Amid interest from Stoke, Sanchez Flores to stay at Espanyol

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Stoke managerial target Quique Sanchez Flores has committed his future to Espanyol amid heavy speculation that he is to be the next Stoke manager.

Mark Hughes was sacked on January 7 after Stoke continued their miserable run of form with a 2-1 defeat by League Two side Coventry in the FA Cup third round.

Espanyol are said to be well aware of the situation and rather than panicking the club are assuring the Spanish media they're calm over the situation, feeling their structure won't be hit so much by the head coach leaving.

They had set their sights on Sanchez Flores and the former Watford manager was said to be on the brink of a Premier League return.

The ex-Atletico Madrid and Benfica boss added: "I'm very grateful to Espanyol, I've been frustrated sometimes because we haven't advanced as fast as desired, but that's because Espanyol haven't been able to, not because they haven't wanted to". I am the coach and will continue to be until the end of the season. "I am and will be the manager of Espanyol".

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"I do not talk about me".

It is understood a Stoke delegation met Flores in Barcelona on Wednesday, and that Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is also under consideration.

However, in an unexpected turn of events, the 52-year-old announced that he would be staying in La Liga, rejecting Stoke's offer of a five-year deal.

Derby County boss Gary Rowett was originally the leading contender to succeed Hughes, but he signed a new three-and-a-half-year deal with the Championship club on Tuesday.

"Whoever comes in is coming into a fantastic football club".