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Chelsea ‘held talks with Red Bulls Head of Global Soccer Oliver Mintzlaff’

Chelsea were “in talks with Red Bull’s head of global soccer Oliver Mintzlaff” when they were looking for a sporting director – but Christoph Freund is the front-runner for the role.

The Blues’ American owner, Todd Boehly, has expressed his admiration for the Red Bull model of a network of clubs around the globe and plans to build something similar at Stamford Bridge.

And their search for a sporting director to oversee this club makeover saw them attempt to poach Red Bull’s captain.

The Athletic report that Chelsea have been exploring the possibility of hiring Mintzlaff, who is also CEO of Bundesliga club RB Leipzig.

A meeting with the 47-year-old was held earlier in the summer, but a pause to take stock resulted in both parties agreeing not to continue talks.

Mintzlaff, a former long-distance runner and head of sports marketing at Puma, came to Leipzig in 2014 and accompanied the rise to one of the leading clubs in the Bundesliga.

In January 2015, he took over as Head of Global Soccer, replacing Gerard Houllier, gaining knowledge of the global network of partner clubs that Chelsea are keen to emulate.

However, it is likely they will appoint Freund, the sporting director of Red Bull Salzburg, with whom Chelsea drew in the Champions League last week.

The 45-year-old was responsible for the arrivals of Erling Haaland, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita at Salzburg and his talent scouting is a big part of the appeal.

Freund has made clear his desire to move to Stamford Bridge to take up the new challenge, having turned down offers to leave Salzburg in the past.

Asked about Chelsea’s interest last week, Freund said: “I’ve exchanged views with Chelsea from time to time.

“We spoke a lot more to each other a month or two ago because they were interested in signing [Benjamin] sesco

“The new owners are interested in how we deal with young players, how we integrate them into the first team. Chelsea are a big club in transition. I can’t say exactly what will happen in the coming weeks and months.’

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