Chelsea may have missed out on their best bit of business in the last half-century after failing to land Christoph Freund as their new sporting director, according to former Red Bull Salzburg manager Adi Hutter. The Blues were said to have identified Freund as their top target in their efforts to replace Marina Granovskaia, who left her role towards the end of last season, but will ultimately be forced to look elsewhere after seeing their advances turned down by the 48-year-old
Freund had revealed that he was in talks with Chelsea earlier this month but is now set to stay at Salzburg, where he remains tied down until the summer of 2026 after penning a new contract at the end of last season. He has been responsible for unearthing the likes of Erling Haaland and Benjamin Sesko over the years and was recently hailed by Hutter, who insisted that he would have been a shrewd addition at Chelsea if the move had gone through.
“The way he deals with people is great, and he has carried on from [Ralf] Rangnick,” Hutter told Sky Austria when quizzed on Freund’s work behind the scenes at Salzburg.
“For me, this would be the biggest transfer of the last 50 years and I think it’s sensational that he’s being traded at Chelsea today. I wish it would be possible for him to take this step.”
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Chelsea’s hopes of landing Freund were firmly dismissed on Tuesday afternoon by Salzburg, who released a statement insisting in no uncertain terms that he will be staying on their books for the foreseeable future. Freund went on to admit that he did consider the possibility of joining the Blues before eventually deciding to snub the move in order to continue his work in Austria.
“As I have already confirmed in interviews, Chelsea FC was interested in me,” he said. “When such a big club asks, it not only honours me and the work of FC Red Bull Salzburg, it is of course also a circumstance that entails personal considerations.
“But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in the best of hands with FC Red Bull Salzburg and that a change is out of the question for me.”
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen where Chelsea will go next in their search for a new sporting director, with owner Todd Boehly eager to wrap up an appointment before the transfer market reopens in January. The Guardian have already suggested that Bayer Leverkusen chief Tim Steidten could emerge as a target for the Blues, who have reportedly lined him up as a suitable alternative to Freund after the latter’s decision to remain at Salzburg.
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