First it was Atlético Madrid. They wanted a loan-to-buy deal. Then it was Marseille, who put out feelers to his entourage. And finally, it was crunch talks about his role under Maurizio Sarri.
But through it all, one thing has never happened: not once has Oliver Giroud hinted that he wanted to leave Chelsea. In fact, he hadn’t actually said anything as he enjoyed his vacation and started growing his magnificent mane back. Now, in a new interview with Le Dauphiné Libéré, a French regional newspaper based in Grenoble, he makes it clear he’s staying.
“I’ve heard a lot of things said in the media. I have no plans to go back to France anytime soon. Right now, I’m a Chelsea player.”
And that should settle that, at least for this transfer window.
Giroud, who fit Antonio Conte’s target-man profile perfectly, faces an uncertain future under Maurizio Sarri’s vastly different system. And that’s not helped by coming back as late as one possibly could, after winning the World Cup just three weeks ago. Sarri isn’t going to get many looks at him in training before the seasons starts. But Giroud comes back to Chelsea buoyed by his (scoreless in heavy minutes) World Cup experience.
“It’s a real pleasure to make the French people proud of their team. You realize how much football means to people. And I have a lot of memories, too.”
Despite his 31 years, he has no intention of calling it quits on his international career, not after the experience he just had, and not with matches against Germany and Netherlands looming in September’s newfangled UEFA League of Nations.
“I don’t have any limitations. I feel good physically. I’m still young. I haven’t set any date for retiring from international football.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Le Dauphiné Libéré
It’s hard to forecast how Giroud will ultimately fit with Sarri. It could take a few matches for things to sort themselves at centre-forward, with Michy Batshuayi having been promised an active role and Morata the presumed starter.
But after seeing a frequently bloodied but always undaunted Giroud battling for Chelsea in the second-half of last season, it wouldn’t be wise to underestimate his determination.