Todd Boehly had hoped he would be in a position to make a swift appointment having been forced to take on the role of sporting director himself during a chaotic summer transfer window.
Chelsea spent in excess of £250million revamping their squad but appear to be no better for the significant investment and are embarking on yet another new managerial era following the sacking of Thomas Tuchel earlier this month.
Boehly had identified Freund as his primary target to take on the some of the responsibilities he had assumed himself over the summer and thought he had al but closed a deal for the Austrian.
Indeed, Freund was in attendance at Stamford Bridge last week when his current club battled to a 1-1 draw in their Champions League group stage clash and talked up the possibility of moving to west London.
He said: ‘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.’
But Salzburg managing director Reiter is confident Freund will not depart, potentially leaving Chelsea looking elsewhere for a new sporting director.
‘I can definitely rule that out, neither Chelsea nor Christoph Freund spoke to me or the club management about something like that,’ Reiter told Sky Sport Austria.
‘Christoph recently signed a contract with us until 2026, which applies to him as well as to players, managers or coaches.’
Salzburg boss Matthias Jaissle, meanwhile, has said he is not surprised to see Freund linked with other jobs.
‘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.’
Chelsea have also been rejected by PSG’s football advisor Luis Campos who, along with Christoph Galtier, had turned Lille into a genuine force in Ligue 1.
‘I have a three-year deal here at PSG, as I wanted, and I’ve joined this club because I’m convinced we can do something extraordinary. I’ve the right energy to fight for PSG and do something great here,’ Campos said last week.
According to The Athletic, that joint setback means Boehly must look elsewhere for a candidate willing and capable of taking on a role that became vacant following the decision to dispense with both Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia.
Boehly will now consult with new manager Graham Potter, who was appointed swiftly following Tuchel’s sudden departure.