Sources have also told ESPN that former Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards has previously distanced himself from the role.
Chelsea believe Freund, who is credited as the man who helped discover Manchester City forward Erling Haaland while helping develop players including Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Dayot Upamecano, is willing to move to Stamford Bridge but the club have met strong resistance from Salzburg.
Sources have told ESPN that Salzburg are willing to make Freund, who has held the club’s sporting director role since 2015, a counter offer to stay and would demand hefty compensation should he join Chelsea.
Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly stepped in as interim sporting director to help lead the club’s transfer strategy after lead negotiator and director Marina Granovskaia left the club, followed by technical and performance adviser Petr Cech.
ESPN reported on Sept. 8 that Chelsea are aiming to appoint a sporting director before the World Cup begins in November and that new manager Graham Potter would have a say in the process.
Sources have suggested that Potter is keen on working with Freund, while Boehly and co-owner Behdad Eghbali see him as a logical fit for the multi-club ownership model they are attempting to implement.
Red Bull already own clubs in Salszburg and Leipzig as well as New York among others. Sources have told ESPN that Chelsea are likely to aiming to make more than one appointment to add football expertise to their internal structure to support whoever is name sporting director.