The restructuring at Chelsea looks set to continue in the opening weeks of the 2022-23 season as the Blues remain on the hunt for a new director of football after RB Salzburg’s Christoph Freund is set to remain in his native Austria.
It was first reported by insider Fabrizio Romano that Freund was primed to join the new setup at Stamford Bridge under new club co-owner Todd Boehly along with Chelsea’s new manager in Graham Potter. But after conversations with club CEO Stephan Reiter, Freund will remain at Red Bull Arena and continue his credible body of work that dates back to 2015.
Reiter commented on the situation in the wake of the decision; “Christoph Freund has been doing excellent work for us for many years and only recently extended his contract until 2026. I can hereby confirm that he will remain sporting director of FC Red Bull Salzburg.”
“Of course, he informed me about Chelsea FC’s interest in him and we exchanged ideas on a personal level and in good conversations. The fact is that he will remain our sporting director! We have not received any inquiries about a possible change.”
With Chelsea purchasing young talent this summer apart from the wealth of senior figures that were brought into the fold by Boehly to west London, prizing Freund away from RBS would have been a smart piece of business by the Blues if the club is serious about buying smart and continuing to tap into the Cobham pipeline to develop talent down the line.
Under Freund’s guidance, Salzburg has become one of the top development and export pipelines in Europe over the last seven years in the wake of the club’s first shipment to other parts of the continent kicking off in the summer of 2014 with the sales of Kevin Kampl and Sadio Mané to Borussia Dortmund and Southampton respectively.
Since then, RBS has developed and sold - for considerable profits - Naby Keïta (RB Leipzig), Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig), Jonathan Soriano (Beijing Guoan), Martin Hinteregger (FC Augsburg), Konrad Laimer (RB Leipzig), Amadou Haidara (RB Leipzig), Duje Ćaleta-Car (Olympique de Marseille), Valentino Lazaro (Hertha BSC), Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), Munas Dabbur (Sevilla), Diadié Samassékou (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Stefan Leiner (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Xaver Schlager (VfL Wolfsburg), Hannes Wolf (RB Leipzig), Marin Pogrančić (VfL Wolfsburg), Takumi Minamino (Liverpool), Dominik Szoboszlai (RB Leipzig), Hwang Hee-chan (RB Leipzig), Patson Daka (Leicester City), Enock Mwepu (Brighton), Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United), Karim Adeyemi (Borussia Dortmund), Mohamed Camara (AS Monaco), and Rasmus Kristensen (Leeds United).
Though Chelsea has needed no assistance in developing their own talent, the quick-fire £230m spent this summer after Boehly’s arrival is hardly sustainable, with Freund possibly capable of helping the club build through the market in a more sensible manner for the long term.