Olivier Giroud has made quite a career for himself despite people constantly questioning his credentials as a starting center forward. Almost half of his 229 appearances in his eight Premier League seasons have come off the bench (92), and yet, he’s still managed to score 80 goals — in fact, as per the Guardian, he has the second best scoring record off the bench in league history.
That sort of quality certainly has proven crucial for Chelsea in the last two years (and France, too!), with Giroud playing a key role in each of our last two trophies — fulfilling the goal he set out for himself when he left Arsenal in January 2018. Whether filling in for a disappointing Álvaro Morata or Gonzalo Higuaín, or an injured Tammy Abraham, Giroud has proven a steady and reliable contributor, all the while maintaining utmost professionalism on the training ground and in media interviews.
It’s that sort of attitude that enabled him to navigate the first half of this season, when he almost left the club in January but ended up a signing a new one-year extension in May instead — providing a couple much needed goals in the meantime, before the pandemic struck. Some might say the extension is purely to protect Chelsea’s investment, but Giroud’s certainly not looking at it like that. (And it makes much more sense for Chelsea to jettison Michy Batshuayi anyway.)
“All through my career I have always been through difficulties. The best thing to do is to bounce back. I was close to leaving the club but I didn’t really want to. I needed game-time for the Euros and it’s true I spoke with the gaffer regarding maybe letting me go for another challenge. He said ‘yes’. He understood my situation. He was a player and we always had a great understanding regarding my future.
“When he told me that I was going to have more chances to show, I just trusted him, and I really want to fight for it, like I have done before at Arsenal. My motivation was very high. He gave me the opportunity and I just tried to pay him back. It feels like a new start. I want to win more trophies with Chelsea.”
Now we’re back, and so is Giroud, still raring to go. He now has renewed competition from Tammy Abraham, who’s fit once again, not to mention from big-money arrival Timo Werner next season.
Giroud, of course, is betting on himself.
“[Werner] is going to be a very good signing and more motivation for strikers. [...] I’ve been the super sub but I want to make the gaffer’s choices even more difficult.”
“We have a very competitive team, with a good alchemy between the youngsters and experienced players. We expect new signings because it’s been two transfer windows [without any] but I have a lot of expectation about this squad. [...] I will give my best to be back in the team. I’m excited.”
Giroud will turn 34 in September. But don’t count him out just yet.
“I read in the newspaper that coronavirus influenced my decision. You cannot forget the situation, but when the club wanted to give me another year because I have shown a strong character, I felt that my journey at Chelsea was not over. I would have felt very sad if I had left the club in January.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Guardian