1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Christoph Freund: Who is Bayern's new sporting director?

September 1, 2023

German record champions Bayern Munich have put their sporting fortunes in the hands of an Austrian who has a long history at Red Bull Salzburg. But who is the new man in charge of transfers at Bayern?

Bayern Munich's new sporting director Christoph Freund unveiled at a press conference
Bayern have tasked Christoph Freund with re-establishing their sporting dominanceImage: Ulrich Wagner/picture alliance

What did Christoph Freund do before he joined Bayern?

The Austrian, born in 1977, was a player until 2013 but never played higher than the second tier in his home country. In the last few years, he's worked in Red Bull Salzburg's management team, initially as team manager in 2006, then as sports coordinator in 2012 and finally as sporting director in 2015, succeeding Ralf Rangnick.

In the eight seasons before his move to Bayern Munich, the Red Bull outfit has been the dominant force in Austrian football, winning the championship eight times and the cup six times.

Why did Bayern need a new sporting director?

The position had become vacant because Freund's predecessor, Hasan Salihamidzic, was fired along with CEO Oliver Kahn in May, immediately after Bayern's final game of the seasonwhen they narrowly won the Bundesliga championship. The Munich team had experienced a largely unsatisfactory season. After the poorly handled coaching change from Julian Nagelsmann to Thomas Tuchel, the team was eliminated early in the German Cup against Freiburg and the Champions League against Manchester City. In addition, Salihamidzic had failed to manage the succession of top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski satisfactorily. His "king transfer," Sadio Mane, flopped.

Erling Braut Haaland and Dominik Szoboszlai celebrate a goal for Red Bull Salzburg at Liverpool
Erling Braut Haaland and Dominik Szoboszlai were both sold by RB Salzburg for big returnsImage: Mathias Mand/GEPA pictures/IMAGO

What are Freund's strengths?

The 46-year-old has a good eye for talent and is considered a skilled negotiator in transfer deals. During his time at Salzburg, future stars such as Erling Haaland, Karim Adeyemi, Dominik Szoboszlai and many other top talents arrived. Freund also earned RB Salzburg big transfer profits with many players who attracted attention with eye-catching performances in the Austrian league.

Haaland arrived from Norway for €8 million ($8.7 million), made just 22 competitive appearances for Salzburg and scored 28 goals, and was sold to Borussia Dortmund for €20 million. Szoboszlai arrived within the Red Bull construct in 2018 for half a million euros from training team FC Liefering and was transferred to RB Leipzig for €36 million after three years.

Another example is U.S. international Brenden Aaronson, who arrived at Salzburg from Philadelphia Union for €12.7 million in January 2021 and departed for Leeds for €32.8 million 18 months later.

Discovering and nurturing talent is not limited to players, though. Many coaches who shone in Red Bull's Austrian empire are now employed as head coaches in the Bundesliga and other top leagues. RB Leipzig's Marco Rose, Bo Svensson of Mainz and Bochum coach Thomas Letsch currently ply their trade in Germany's top flight.

Bayern Munich's Jamal Musiala and Thomas Müller talk after a game
Jamal Musiala was the last top Bayern player to come through the academy — Freund would like to see moreImage: Frank Hoermann/Sven Simon/IMAGO

What goals has he set himself at Bayern?

In addition to achieving the greatest possible sporting success, which is taken for granted at Bayern, Freund would like to focus more on youth again. After the era of homegrown stars such as Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller and others, talent graduating from the club's academy has become a rarity. The last player to make it into the Bundesliga as a regular from the Bayern Campus, the club's youth development center, was Jamal Musiala — and even he had been at Chelsea for eight years beforehand.

"The biggest challenge will be to develop young players into great players. There is still room for improvement, and the Campus can become even more important," the new sporting director was quoted as saying on Bayern's website.

But Bayern fans can still look forward to more star signings like Harry Kane: "We want to bring a few players through from the Campus, but we will also keep bringing in top players," Freund promised. "The important thing is a mix of both."

This article was translated from German.