Olivier Giroud, the leading goal-scorer of the 2018-19 Europa League, the first Chelsea player to ever score in double digits in a single European campaign, and the only player other than Lionel Messi to reach that mark this season in European competition, will be out of contract in a few weeks.
Whatever happens next, Giroud’s made it clear that he wants to improve his playing time situation — despite his success on the European stage, he’s been largely ignored by Sarri in favor of Álvaro Morata, Eden Hazard (as center forward), or, most recently, Gonzalo Higuaín — and combined with the fact that he still hasn’t been offered an extension by the club, has led to obvious speculation that he will leave for good.
Of course, Sarri himself disagrees with this narrative, much like he disagreed when the players in question were Andreas Christensen and Callum Hudson-Odoi. But it’s Premier League minutes that count above all.
“Giroud played the match number 39 [against Slavia Prague]. 39! Not number nine.. 39. 39! 39! Starting games with 19 and 20 I don’t remember.
“I think [that I disagree with him]. He is playing because he is very useful for us, like in 70 minutes in this match. Very, very useful. He played very well, but he needs to recover more than the other players because he is 90 kilos and so after the match, he needs time to recover, only for this.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Goal
All those issues aside, Sarri has recently confirmed that he asked Chelsea to activate the ‘option’ for a one-year extension in Giroud’s contract, and despite his concerns, Giroud sounds at least willing to sit down and talk.
“There is no pressure to put in. The club has this one-sided option, but I’m doing my job and we’ll see what happens.”
”I still have some beautiful years ahead of me. So, here I am, hoping to have a bigger role. I know there are interested clubs. I’m going to meet the [Chelsea] leaders, then we’ll do the accounts at the end of the season. I’m fine here [at Chelsea], for now.”
-Olivier Giroud: source: Téléfoot via Google Translate
(Ed.note: the “one-sided” option means that Chelsea can trigger the extension without needing a new agreement from Giroud — called “club options” in most US sports, where they are more common than in Europe where they stand on shaky legal ground — though his mention of upcoming meetings should mean that the situation will be resolved in a much more mutually agreeable manner.)
Giroud has had several offers from back home in France, so he will be in a strong position during these talks with Chelsea. The latest to show interest in the 32-year-old are OGC Nice, lead by former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira, as confirmed by club president Gauthier Ganaye.
“He is at the end of the contract, he is still performing well at his age... Come on, we will tell you that it is possible. [But] it’s very expensive.”
-Gauthier Ganaye; source: Téléfoot via Google Translate
The ball appears to be in Giroud’s court.