What did Christoph Freund do before he came to Bayern?
The Austrian, born in 1977, was an active footballer himself until 2013, but never played higher than in the 2nd Bundesliga in his home country. In the final years of his career, he was already working in the management of FC Red Bull Salzburg. He started as a team manager in 2006, became sports coordinator in 2012 and finally sports director in the summer of 2015, succeeding Ralf Rangnick. In the eight seasons until he moved to FC Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga, the team won the championship eight times and the cup six times.
Why did FC 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 last game of the season and the narrowly won championship. Munich had experienced an overall unsatisfactory season. After the poorly managed coaching change from Julian Nagelsmann to Thomas Tuchel, the team was eliminated early in the DFB Cup against SC Freiburg and in the Champions League against Manchester City. In addition, Salihamidzic had not managed to satisfactorily regulate the successor to top scorer Robert Lewandowski. His “royal transfer” Sadio Mane flopped.
What strengths does Freund have?
The 46-year-old has a good eye for talent and is considered a skilled negotiator in transfer deals. During his time as Red Bull sports director, players like Erling Haaland, Karim Adeyemi, Dominik Szoboszlai and many other top talents came to Salzburg. With many players who drew attention to themselves with good performances in the Austrian league, Freund achieved large transfer profits.
Among other things, the American Brenden Aaronson, who came to Salzburg from Philadelphia for 12.7 million euros in January 2021, went to Leeds after a year and a half for 32.8 million euros. He currently plays for Union Berlin. Erling Haaland came from Norway for eight million euros, played just 22 competitive games (28 goals) for Salzburg and was worth 20 million euros to Borussia Dortmund. Szoboszlai came to the Red Bull structure in 2018 for half a million euros from training team FC Liefering and was transferred to RB Leipzig after three years for 36 million euros.
Discovering and promoting talent is not just limited to players. Many coaches who took their first steps at Red Bull Salzburg are now employed as head coaches in the Bundesliga and other top leagues. Current examples are Leipzig’s Marco Rose, Bo Svensson from FSV Mainz 05 and Bochum coach Michael Letsch.
What goals has he set for himself at FC Bayern?
In addition to the greatest possible sporting success as a goal, which is taken for granted at FC Bayern, Freund would especially like to focus more on his own youth again. After the Munich team had numerous home-grown players in the first team for a while with players like Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Owen Hargreaves, David Alaba, Thomas Muller and others, talent from their own offspring has now become a rarity. The last person to make it into the Bundesliga as a regular player from the so-called Bayern Campus, the Munich youth academy, was Jamal Musiala.
“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 sports director was quoted as saying on FC Bayern’s website. After all, it also has an economic meaning. But Bayern fans don’t have to do without stars like Harry Kane: “We want to bring one or two of them up from campus. But we will always bring top players to us,” promised Freund. “What’s important is the mix of both topics.”