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Rumor round-up: Alderweireld, De Vrij, Pulisic; plus Giroud turned down down more money to join Chelsea

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With a bonus of Willian and Joe Cole!

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

It’s been a long week that’s been largely been dominated by old enemies like Barcelona, Tom Henning Ovrebo and all things Champions League., which means that some smaller items have fallen through the cracks. Here, we catch up.


OLIVIER GIROUD

Following his quotes a few days ago, where he discussed how determined he was to repay Conte and the club’s faith in him, our beautiful French target man has disclosed that he was so insistent on joining Chelsea that he, in fact, turned down a bigger paycheck from Borussia Dortmund.

Giroud joined Arsenal in 2012 for a paltry sum of £9.6 million. For a fan base that was still reeling the loss of Robin Van Persie, Giroud’s move flew under the radar because he wasn’t the big name replacement that they so desperately desired. After becoming the 19th player in club history to score 100 goals and winning the FA Cup three times, the jury’s still out on Giroud’s Arsenal legacy.

In total, the big man scored 105 goals in 253 appearances for Arsenal (27 headers—more than anyone in the Premier League since 2012), averaging a goal every 154 minutes. 2015-16 was his best season when he scored 24 goals in all competitions, however he never quite managed to make that starting role his own.

“It was frustrating at Arsenal obviously. For a year and a half, it went from bad to worse. I could no longer continue like that, I could not bring myself to spend another year at Arsenal and remain a reserve, even a second reserve.

“The future looked gloomy with the arrival of a new striker [Aubameyang]. I wanted to become happier again by playing, so I left – it is as simple as that.

Regardless of his regression to the substitute role, Giroud not only made a difference whenever he was called upon — 17 goals as a substitute since 2012-13, most in the Premier League(again) — but also remained a model professional. However, sometimes you’ve got to put your foot down and say enough is enough. And so he did.

“The easiest solution was to go to Dortmund. Arsenal were happy, Dortmund as well. It was the offer most interesting, financially speaking. I have a very good contract at Chelsea but Dortmund really wanted me.”

Dortmund did offer more money but money is not all that matters to our big hearted giant. Aside from Chelsea being a bigger club than Dortmund, personal factors also played a big part.

“It happened after a game of poker, like in all transfers. It dragged on, I started to get stressed because my third child was born at that exact moment. That was also why I did not want to go to Dortmund. Spending four months without seeing him, I do not know how I could have done it. It was why, I needed to take the bull by the horns.

“I went to see the coach to ask him where he was with Aubameyang. I put him under a bit of pressure, like my agent, who I spoke to several times a day. It is normal. I did not want to be deprived of going to Chelsea, which was the best solution for me. The coach immediately said to me: ‘Don’t worry, I will do my best so that you are happy’.

“On one side, it was normal. I had never asked to leave. On the other, I knew that he would not cause problems given the relationship we had always had. He even said to me that it would p*** him off if I did not go to Russia.”

-Olivier Giroud; source: France Football

Good guy, Arsene Wenger, it should be said. He spoke very highly of Giroud even when the move was underway and it sounds like all parties behaved with utmost professionalism. Football, after all, is just business.

And we even got a good deal!


Moving on to the transfer rumours because silly season never sleeps and is a gift that keeps on giving. In addition to the Lascelles to Chelsea rumor, we have two more defensive players knocking about in the February rumor mill — still four months until it opens, mind.

STEFAN DE VRIJ

The World Cup semifinalist Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij has been linked with Chelsea since at least 2016, and was also the winner of the first transfer rumor after January just a few weeks ago.

At the time, the story was that he was set to renew and then either stay or move on for big money. Those negotiations have now broken down however, and Lazio have resigned themselves to losing De Vrij in the summer.

“Lazio are withdrawing the proposal made to the player for reasons we’ll state at a later date. It’s decision made after many months. There’s a limit to everything. He’s a professional who gave a lot, but we’ll say good bye at the end of the season”

-Igli Tare; Lazio sporting director; source: Premium Sport via GDM

Internazionale appear to be the front-runners for his signature right now, with Barcelona and Chelsea rumored to be keeping track to help drive his price up.


TOBY ALDERWEIRELD

Slightly less clear is the story from fellow Londoners Put-The-Pressure-On FC, who continue to be rather stingy (“structured”) with their wage bill and thus continue to cause their best players to question just what in the blazes they are still doing there — especially after Kyle Walker hit the jackpot last summer.

Next in that conga line could be Toby Alderweireld, whose contract expires in 2019 and, like his fellow Belgians at Chelsea, has been in talks with his club over an extension. Unlike for Courtois and Hazard, Toby’s talks are definitely not going well, at least according to the “EXCLUSIVE” from the Times, which claims that he “could” be sold as Spurs “may” opt to cash in this summer. Strong stuff right there.

The Times may be claiming an exclusive, but this story isn’t new either, with Alderweireld’s agent making noises even at the start of the season regarding this eventuality. All the Premier League’s big boys are linked (and Real Madrid, too), as they explore their options, though the trouble for Chelsea is that Alderweireld’s going on £50m and 29 years of ago. That’s not the type of transfer Chelsea make these days, nor should we, really — we missed the boat on Alderweireld back in 2014 or 2015, when he was still with Atletico and then on loan at Southampton. It’s too late.

(Spurs do have an option for a one-year extension, but activating that clause also activates a bargain £25m release clause, which would surely generate a feeding frenzy from the aforementioned big boys of England and Europe and thus would result in Spurs actually losing money on the deal.)


CHRISTIAN PULISIC

Speaking of not missing the boat, here’s Christian Pulisic, one of the most eligible transfer mill bachelors for the summer. Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea are all keeping tabs, but since Pulisic plays in Germany, so are Bayern Munich.

The latter’s entrance into what could be an 88m sweepstakes is the story from the Mail earlier this week — despite a slightly below-par season so far from the USA international.

[My form is] not the best it’s been but I’m working hard, trying to help the team everywhere I can, but I just have to stay positive, keep going and things will turn around.

There’s no time for a break right now, so I’m just gonna keep going.

-Christian Pulisic; source: ESPN

Better start saving up that loose change, Roman!


BONUS ROUND:

Are you still here?! Well, as a reward for making it this far, here’s an interesting stat about Willian.

Also, for those of who love Joe Cole (and who doesn’t), here’s an excerpt from a great article where he speaks about his journey from being child prodigy to a player to a coach.

An anomaly.

That was me. I was almost 11 years old and playing in a football team for the first time. That’s when I realised I was different to the other kids. I had attributes that they didn’t, because until then I’d had nobody in my ear telling me how to play football. I’d just been playing. Trying to create something.

I’d always been more into playing the game than watching it. My dad wasn’t a football fan, so as a kid I went to Chelsea with a friend and his dad. But I was still more interested in what I could make a ball do than watching others knock it around. I always have been. Ever since one of my first days at infant school, when I stood in the playground and watched this kid kick a ball up in the air, let it bounce and then sort of spin it on his head.

-Joe Cole; source: The Coaches’ Voice