RB Salzburg have come out to clarify that they do not expect Christoph Freund to join Chelsea despite reports the Austrian was close to becoming the new sporting director in west London.
Threatening to elongate an already messy saga, Salzburg chief Stephan Reiter has said that Freund joining Chelsea can ‘definitely’ be ruled out.
Speaking to Sky Sports Austria regarding reports Freund was on the verge of making the leap to join Chelsea, Reiter appeared to deny any knowledge of such a deal and stressed their sporting director was there to stay.
He said: ‘I can definitely rule that out, neither Chelsea nor Christoph Freund spoke to me or the club management about something like that.
‘Christoph recently signed a contract with us until 2026, which applies to him as well as to players, managers or coaches.’
Having experienced a difficult summer of player recruitment in which Chelsea at times appeared to be getting run ragged by clubs for their targets, their search for a new sporting director threatens to go down the same route.
It had been widely reported that Chelsea were on the verge of completing the move for Freund to join the club as its new sporting director to work alongside Graham Potter, the club’s new manager, as well as Kyle Macaulay, the recruitment expert who followed the ex-Brighton boss to Stamford Bridge.
However, Reiter’s comments appear to have extinguished any likelihood of the deal being completed soon.
Salzburg’s coach, Matthias Jaissle, has admitted to not being surprised ‘world class teams’ are after the football guru, praising the work he has done with the Austrian side.
‘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.’
The appointment of a sporting director thus is not thought to be imminent, The Athletic reported.
While Freund was their top target, interest in the candidacy remains high with Chelsea having a number of names drawn up.
It has been reported that Chelsea’s deadline to have appointed an individual to the role was by the World Cup, which kicks off on November 20 in Qatar, giving the club roughly nine weeks to find someone.
Last week, Freund himself commented on the speculation surrounding his future, telling Sky Sports Austria: ‘Chelsea is a huge club in transition.
‘I can’t say exactly what will happen in the next few weeks and months. 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.’