Red Bull Salzburg‘s Christoph Freund has reportedly agreed to join Chelsea as their new sporting director.
The 45-year-old has spent 16 years in various roles for the Austrian champions, earning a promotion to sporting director for the 2015-16 season.
During that time, Freund has overseen the development and big-money sales of a wealth of top talents, namely the likes of Erling Braut Haaland, Naby Keita, Dayot Upamecano and Sadio Mane.
Earlier this summer, Brenden Aaronson and Karim Adeyemi also left in big-money moves for Leeds United and Borussia Dortmund respectively, becoming Salzburg’s two most expensive departures of all time.
Freund has also served as sporting director for each of Salzburg’s last seven Austrian Bundesliga triumphs and was in attendance to watch his side draw 1-1 with Chelsea in the Champions League on September 14.
The Austrian’s eye-catching work at Salzburg saw Chelsea take an interest in his services, with co-owner Todd Boehly seeking a new sporting director following the exit of Marina Granovskaia.
Boehly has served as interim sporting director in the wake of Granovskaia’s June departure, with the 47-year-old following Roman Abramovich out of the exit door at the same time Bruce Buck stepped down as chairman.
On Sunday night, Chelsea were reportedly close to appointing Freund as their new sporting director, and the Evening Standard now claims that the 45-year-old has verbally agreed to join the Blues.
Freund supposedly came to an agreement with Boehly and fellow co-owner Behdad Eghbali, and Graham Potter was also consulted before the Chelsea chiefs advanced negotiations with Freund.
Chelsea are understood to be excited by the prospect of Freund working closely with Potter, and the former’s record of maintaining relationships with Salzburg players is seen as a huge positive.
Furthermore, Chelsea’s playing squad have reportedly been left impressed with Boehly and Eghbali’s start to life at Stamford Bridge, with the pair wasting no time in reshuffling the hierarchy.
Following the appointment of Freund as sporting director, Chelsea are expected to intensify their search for a new technical director and have been strongly linked with Paul Mitchell.
The 41-year-old has served upstairs at Monaco for two years, and he has previously worked as a scout for MK Dons, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur before branching out.
Since leaving England in 2017, Mitchell has taken up roles at RB Leipzig, Bragantino, New York Red Bulls and Cercle Brugge, and he still serves as a strategic advisor for the Belgian club.
However, the report adds that Mitchell is seen as a “long-term” target, as the former Wigan Athletic midfielder only became a member of the Monegasques board at the end of last season.