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Chelsea ‘close to appointing Christoph Freund as sporting director’

Chelsea ‘close to appointing Christoph Freund as sporting director’

Red Bull Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund is reportedly on the verge of joining Chelsea.

The Blues have been on the hunt for a new upstairs chief following Marina Granovskaia‘s exit earlier in the year, with Todd Boehly overseeing a significant summer of spending.

Boehly became the club’s interim sporting director when Granovskaia departed in June, and the Blues co-owner recently appointed Graham Potter to the hotseat to replace Thomas Tuchel.

Potter and Boehly are said to have discussed the appointment of a sporting director during the former’s arrival at the club, and a number of candidates have been mentioned.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Luis Campos has been strongly linked with the job, but the 58-year-old recently ruled out any chance of an early departure from the Parc des Princes.

© Reuters

Instead, Chelsea turned their attention to Salzburg chief Freund, and according to journalist Fabrizio Romano, the 45-year-old is set to be named as the Blues’ new sporting director.

Romano adds that Chelsea are close to reaching an agreement on personal terms with Freund, and the Blues are now set to discuss a deal with Salzburg ahead of his imminent move.

During his time at Salzburg, Freund has brokered deals for a plethora of top talents, with Erling Braut Haaland, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Dayot Upamecano among those to come through the Salzburg ranks.

Freund also oversaw the Austrian champions’ two most expensive sales in the club’s history this summer, as Karim Adeyemi and Brenden Aaronson left for Borussia Dortmund and Leeds United respectively.

The Austrian was appointed to his sports director role in 2015 after spending three years as a sports coordinator, and his contract at Salzburg is not due to expire until the summer of 2026.

New Chelsea boss Graham Potter on September 13, 2022© Reuters

During Freund’s time as sporting director, Salzburg have won seven consecutive Austrian Bundesliga titles and six Austrian Cup crowns, doing the double in each of the last four seasons.

Following Salzburg’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the Champions League earlier this month, Freund refused to rule out taking a job at Stamford Bridge, labelling the Blues a “huge club”.

“You should never rule anything out in football and Chelsea are such a huge club. But I’m sports director in Salzburg and I really enjoy it,” Freund told Sky Austria. “Chelsea is a huge club in transition. I can’t say exactly what will happen in the next few weeks and months.”

“I’ve had exchanges with Chelsea from time to time. We spoke more often a month or two ago because they were interested in [Benjamin] Sesko,” Freund added. “The new owners are interested in how we do it with young players, how we integrate them into the first team. But you do that again and again with other clubs – that’s it.”

Potter’s first game in charge of Chelsea came in the draw with Salzburg, and the 47-year-old will make his Premier League debut with the capital club against Crystal Palace on October 1 following the international break.

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