Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly faces the prospect of adding numerous weeks to his sporting director search after Red Bull Salzburg reportedly made it clear they intend to keep the Blues' No. 1 target, Christoph Freund.

The optimism inside Stamford Bridge that the appointment of Freund was imminent may have been premature, as there's now a good chance the Austrian will remain at Salzburg, according to The Athletic's David Ornstein.

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.