Red Bull Salzburg have confirmed that sporting director Christoph Freund will stay with the club despite interest from Chelsea.
The 45-year-old recently emerged as a potential candidate to succeed Marina Granovskaia, who left here post as sporting director at Stamford Bridge in June.
Freund previously worked as a team manager and sports coordinator with Salzburg before he succeeding Ralf Rangnick as the club’s sporting director in 2015.
Speaking to Sky Sports Austria after Salzburg’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea in the Champions League last week, Freund refused to rule out the prospect to joining the Blues.
“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 reporters. “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,” the Austrian 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.”
A recent report claimed that Freund had verbally agreed to join Chelsea, but Salzburg chief Stephan Reiter has denied such rumours and has confirmed that he will remain in his role as sporting director at the club.
“Christoph Freund has been doing excellent work for us for many years and only recently extended his contract until 2026,” Reiter told reporters via the Evening Standard.
“I can hereby confirm that he will remain sporting director of FC Red Bull Salzburg. Of course, he informed me about Chelsea FC’s interest in him and we exchanged ideas on a personal level and in good conversations. The fact is that he will remain our sporting director!”
Freund has admitted that he held talks with the West Londoners, adding: “As I have already confirmed in interviews, Chelsea FC was interested in me.
“When such a big club asks, it not only honours me and the work of FC Red Bull Salzburg, it is of course also a circumstance that entails personal considerations.
“But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in the best of hands with FC Red Bull Salzburg and that a change is out of the question for me.”
Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly appears to be struggling to find a replacement for Granovskaia, with Paris Saint-Germain chief Luis Campos also ruling himself out of a proposed switch to Stamford Bridge.
RB Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff has also been linked with the sporting director vacancy, but a recent report claims that the Blues have decided against approaching the German.
It remains to be seen whether Chelsea will change their stance on appointing Mintzlaff after missing out on Freund.