RB Salzburg have made it clear they do not expect Christoph Freund to join Chelsea, despite reports that the Austrian was on the verge of becoming the new sporting director in west London.
Salzburg boss Stephan Reiter threatened to prolong an already chaotic saga, saying Freund’s move to Chelsea could be “definitely” ruled out.
Speaking to Sky Sports Austria about reports that Freund was about to join Chelsea, Reiter appeared to deny any knowledge of such a deal, stressing that their sporting director will remain there.
He said: “I can definitely rule that out, neither Chelsea nor Christoph Freund spoke to me or the club management about anything like that.
“Christoph recently signed a contract with us until 2026, which applies to him as well as to players, managers or coaches.”
After a difficult summer recruiting, during which Chelsea appeared at times to be torn by clubs for their goals, their search for a new sporting director threatens to follow the same path.
It had been widely reported that Chelsea were on the verge of completing the move from Freund to new sporting director to work alongside Graham Potter, the club’s new manager, as well as Kyle Macaulay, the recruitment expert who succeeded the ex-Brighton boss on of Stamford Bridge.
However, Reiter’s comments appear to have eliminated any likelihood of the deal closing anytime soon.
Salzburg coach Matthias Jaissle admitted he wasn’t surprised that “world-class teams” are after the football guru and praised the work he’s done with the Austrian side.
“Of course I heard there were rumours, but it didn’t affect me at all,” Jaissle said.
“He did an excellent job together with Reiter and walked this path here – they are doing great. It’s logical that absolute world-class teams would be interested, but I can’t tell what the truth is.’
The appointment of a sporting director is therefore not imminent, The Athletic reported.
While Freund was her primary target, interest in the candidacy remains high as Chelsea have worked out a number of names.
It was reported that Chelsea had set a deadline for appointing a person for the role by the World Cup, which starts in Qatar on November 20, giving the club around nine weeks to find someone.
Freund himself commented on the speculation about his future to Sky Sports Austria last week: “Chelsea is a huge club in transition.
“I can’t say exactly what’s going to happen in the next few weeks and months. You should never rule anything out in football and Chelsea are such a big club.
“But I’m sports director in Salzburg and I really enjoy it.”