‘It is true that Chelsea wanted me… but I’ve come to the conclusion I’m in the best hands with Salzburg’: Christoph Freund confirms he’s TURNED DOWN the chance to become sporting director at Stamford Bridge… in a major blow to owner Todd Boehly
- Freund, 45, said he is happy to stay in current role in Austria with RB Salzburg
- Chelsea had earmarked Freund as ideal name to work alongside Graham Potter
- Todd Boehly will look for alternative names including Monaco’s Paul Mitchell
- Freund’s decision not to join the club represents a huge blow to the club
Chelsea have suffered another blow in their search for a sporting director after No 1 candidate Christoph Freund opted to stay at Red Bull Salzburg.
The Blues were hopeful after talks with the Austrian, 45, who helped recruit stars including Sadio Mane and Erling Haaland to Salzburg.
But Freund has confirmed that he will stick with the Austrian champions, who held Chelsea to a draw in the Champions League last week.
Christoph Freund has turned down the sporting director role at Chelsea to stay with Salzburg
The Blues will now turn their attention to other names, with Bayer Leverkusen’s Tim Steidten on the list.
Another Chelsea target, former Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards, has already said he will take a break from the game after leaving Anfield at the end of last season.
Chelsea hope to appoint their new sporting director, with new manager Graham Potter’s help, before the World Cup. They could also add a technical director.
‘Yes, it’s true that Chelsea wanted me and we had talks,’ confirmed Freund.
‘When such a big club asks it not only honours me and the work of Salzburg, it is of course a circumstance that entails personal considerations.
‘But I’ve come to the conclusion I’m in the best hands with Salzburg and that a change is out of the question for me.
‘I was thinking about the Chelsea director job as I have been proud of the interest shown by such a top club.’
Red Bull chief Stephan Reiter, who had claimed on Monday that he had received no official approach, added: ‘Of course Freund informed me about Chelsea and we exchanged ideas on a personal level and had good conversations but the fact is he will remain our sporting director.’
Freund was thought to be a good fit to work alongside new Chelsea boss Graham Potter
The 45-year-old will remain in Austria alongside Red Bull chief Stephan Reiter (right)
Freund had been considered a good fit for Chelsea by Blues chiefs, who were impressed by his shrewdness, bold ideas and passion.
They felt that, after catching the eye at Salzburg, Freund would have dovetailed well with the new coaching staff headed up by recently-appointed manager Graham Potter.
Freund had been given approval by Chelsea boss Graham Potter and his recruitment specialist Kyle Macauley.
Chelsea have not completely given up but they are also looking at other options. Paul Mitchell, of Monaco, is also thought to be of interest.
Owner Todd Boehly is currently doing the job himself on a temporary basis, but the club will now continue conversations with alternative candidates for a sporting director.
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly (right) will now have to look at alternative names for sporting director