Chelsea's top sporting director target decides to stay at Salzburg

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Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly will have to continue his sporting director search after Red Bull Salzburg made it clear they will retain the Blues' No. 1 target, Christoph Freund.

"Christoph Freund has been doing excellent work for us for many years and only recently extended his contract until 2026," Salzburg CEO Stephan Reiter said. "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."

Chelsea have now shifted their attention to Bayer Leverkusen's Tim Steidten, reports Jacob Steinberg of The Guardian.

Optimism inside Stamford Bridge that the appointment of Freund was imminent turned out to be premature.

Freund, 45, is renowned for his talent-spotting skills and use of data. He helped broker the arrivals of Erling Haaland, Sadio Mane, Brenden Aaronson, Naby Keita, and Dayot Upamecano at Salzburg. Another one of his celebrated recruits, Benjamin Sesko, will join RB Leipzig in a high-profile move next summer.

The setback means Boehly remains interim sporting director for a little longer. The American spent over £260 million during the summer transfer window after he temporarily assumed those duties following Marina Granovskaia's departure in June. He had 23 days' experience in English football when he filled that position.

Chelsea legend Petr Cech also vacated his role as technical adviser soon after Boehly and Clearlake Capital Group's takeover was completed at the end of May.

Boehly, an admirer of the Red Bull model, previously explored the possibility of hiring RB Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff at Chelsea in the summer, but both parties mutually decided against that change, according to David Ornstein of The Athletic.

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Chelsea's top sporting director target decides to stay at Salzburg
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