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Chelsea eye Tim Steidten as Christoph Freund alternative?

Chelsea eye Tim Steidten as Christoph Freund alternative?

Chelsea have reportedly turned their attention to Bayer Leverkusen chief Tim Steidten after conceding defeat in their efforts to prise Christoph Freund away from Red Bull Salzburg.

Following the departure of former sporting director Marina Granovskaia in June, the Blues have been on the hunt for a new chief to work in tandem with Graham Potter.

Todd Boehly assumed interim sporting director duties upon his arrival in the English capital, and Chelsea’s search for a permanent successor to Granovskaia has intensified since the sacking of Thomas Tuchel.

Freund – who has unearthed top talents such as Erling Braut Haaland and Sadio Mane during his time at Salzburg – was originally considered to be the favourite for the role at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were even reported to have reached a verbal agreement with the 45-year-old, but Salzburg played down such speculation, and Freund confirmed earlier this week that he would be staying put in Austria.

Red Bull Salzburg manager Matthias Jaissle and sporting director Christoph Freund pictured in December 2021© Reuters

“Chelsea was interested in me. When a big club asks, it is a circumstance that entails personal considerations,” Freund said in a statement.

“But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in the best of hands with RB Salzburg and that a change is out of the question for me.”

Following their failure to convince Freund to join the club, Chelsea are now scoping out other candidates for the sporting director’s job, and The Guardian claims that Steidten is high up on the list.

The 43-year-old undertook various roles within the ranks at Werder Bremen after retiring as a player in 2009, serving as their head of scouting for three years before leaving in 2019.

Steidten immediately took up the same job at Leverkusen before being promoted to sporting director earlier this year, with Simon Rolfes instead taking up the managing director of sport role.

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter in his first game against Red Bull Salzburg on September 14, 2022.© Reuters

During Steidten’s time at the club, Leverkusen have brought in the likes of Patrik Schick, Edmond Tapsoba and Moussa Diaby, as well as capturing Florian Wirtz from Koln’s academy in 2020.

Leverkusen finished third in the Bundesliga last season to qualify for the Champions League and have already touched base with Chelsea this year to acquire the services of Callum Hudson-Odoi on loan.

However, Steidten’s recent promotion could reportedly hinder Chelsea’s chances of striking a deal, and the Blues have already seen Paris Saint-Germain’s Luis Campos distance himself from the role.

Chelsea are also believed to have failed with an approach to hire former Liverpool director Michael Edwards, and the West London club are reportedly determined to confirm the appointment of a new chief before the 2022 World Cup begins.

As well as a sporting director, a new technical director is also said to be on Boehly’s agenda amid links with Monaco’s Paul Mitchell and Leeds United’s Victor Orta.

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