Salzburg director ‘rules out’ Freund to Chelsea despite Romano suggesting otherwise

Jason Soutar
Christoph Freund Chelsea

Red Bull Salzburg managing director Stephan Reiter is confident Christoph Freund will not leave the Austrian champions for Chelsea.

Salzburg administrator Freund has been heavily linked with the sporting director role at Stamford Bridge over the past week or so.

He assumed a highly-visible role during his side’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea in the Champions League last Wednesday.

On Sunday, Fabrizio Romano said the Blues were close to agreeing personal terms with Freund.

The 45-year-old will come to England with a top reputation having discovered the likes of Erling Haaland, Sadio Mane and Dayot Upamecano.

As well as Romano, the PA news agency also expects Freund to be named sporting director at Chelsea.

Freund is thought to have agreed verbal terms on the role that new co-controlling owner Todd Boehly has filled on an interim basis this summer.

He has apparently impressed Blues owners Boehly and Behdad Eghbali with his shrewdness, bold ideas and passion.

New Chelsea manager Graham Potter was understood to have been asked for his view on Freund before owners Boehly and Eghbali pressed ahead with a deal.

Potter is said to be ready to work with Freund, with the new Chelsea coach’s backroom staff recruitment specialist Kyle Macaulay heavily involved too.

Freund has built a strong bond with many of the RB Salzburg players, and Chelsea’s new owners are thought to see that emotional involvement as a good fit alongside Potter’s coaching style.

The Blues could yet also recruit a technical director to work alongside the incoming Freund, and Monaco’s Paul Mitchell remains a long-term target.

Chelsea’s players are thought to be encouraged by the speed with which Boehly and Eghbali are rebuilding the club’s off-field structure.

The Blues stars know Potter needs to maximise time on the grass to shape his Stamford Bridge blueprint, and believe Freund’s expected arrival will allow the ex-Brighton boss to hone in on tactics and squad set-up.

Co-owner Boehly will also be able to focus on his Chelsea chairmanship.

However, Salzburg director Reiter insists he is very relaxed about the situation.

“I can definitely rule that out, neither Chelsea nor Christoph Freund spoke to me or the club management about something like that,” Reiter told Sky Sport Austria (via Sport Witness).

“Christoph recently signed a contract with us until 2026, which applies to him as well as to players, managers or coaches.”

Salzburg boss Matthias Jaissle added that he is not surprised to see Freund linked to Chelsea.

“Of course, I noticed that there were rumours, but that didn’t affect me at all,” Jaissle said.

“He did an outstanding job together with Reiter and took this path here – they’re doing great.

“It’s logical that absolute world-class teams are interested, but I can’t say what the truth is.”