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Chelsea have hit a stumbling block in their pursuit of Christoph Freund to become their new sporting director, according to reports.
Todd Boehly and Co are looking to add to Chelsea’s off-field structure and a sporting director appointment is a priority ahead of the World Cup, with the hope being to fill the role before the middle of November.
Many candidates have been spoken to but the club set their eyes on FC Salzburg’s Freund and talks have been positive between the parties.
It was reported that Chelsea were in advanced talks and looked likely to be closing in on the 45-year-old, despite Freund being coy on a move to Stamford Bridge last week.
Speaking to Sky Austria, he said: "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."
Salzburg denied any talks on Monday and insisted they expected Freund to stay at the club. As per Ben Jacobs, they said: “FC Red Bull Salzburg has never been contacted from Chelsea to talk about any transfer details of Christoph Freund. We expect him to stay.”
🚨 Salzburg statement to me confirming they expect Christoph Freund to stay, despite their sporting director verbally agreeing to #CFC 👀— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) September 19, 2022
“FC Red Bull Salzburg has never been contacted from Chelsea to talk about any transfer details of Christoph Freund. We expect him to stay.”
And now David Ornstein of The Athletic reports that an appointment to fill the sporting director position is not imminent.
He claims that there is a ‘good chance’ that Freund stays at Salzburg, with optimism at Chelsea of Freund to Chelsea being done being premature.
Other candidates are being talked to with interest in the role high, with this latest setback meaning the process could take a number of weeks more before it concludes.
Managing Director of Salzburg, Stephan Reiter, told Sky that nothing had been discussed between any party, referring to his contract length.
He said: "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."
It leaves Chelsea with work to do to appoint a sporting director to support new head coach Graham Potter. Ideally, they would like to resolve it as soon as possible but it looks likely the wait will go on until they find their perfect fit to join the new project in west London.