Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud is a wanted man ... in France. The 32-year-old striker is still held in high regard in his home country, where he remains an important cog in the World Cup-winning national team, and he’s talked up big by people like Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michael Aulas who did so in January.
Lyon are angling for a summer approach, by which time Giroud could be a free agent. His contract with Chelsea is up in June, and so far there’s been little indication of an extension.
“I can imagine a return to France, I do not know what the future will hold for me, it is not the priority of the moment, but I will be open to all proposals because I am happy when I play.”
“I know what [Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas] is saying and I’m very happy about the interest of some French clubs in my regard. I mentioned Lyon because the president has talked about it.
“It is a club with very good young people, very good players, a very good staff. On the international scene, we saw good matches against City and Barcelona, even if the return was more difficult. Lyon is a very good club, a great team, like others in France, of course. I want to become important again, with the confidence of a coach.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Foot Mercato via Google Translate
After joining Chelsea in January of last year, Giroud quickly became Conte’s first-choice striker. Under Sarri, he again started the season as the backup (in part due to his summer commitments at the World Cup), but again rose to the top of the pile as Alvaro Morata continued to struggle. But after Morata was sent on loan, Giroud’s reward was to get pushed back down to backup with the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain on loan.
“It’s more complicated since the arrival of Higuain this winter. The coach knows him well, and therefore inevitably, my playing time has dwindled. In the league, in recent weeks I have not even come into play. There is significant competition in Chelsea, I’m not the only one not to play. You have to be patient.”
-Olivier Giroud; source: Le Dauphine via Google Translate
While Giroud’s saying the right words, the sense of frustration is palpable, especially as he continues to lead the team in Europa League goals — he’s scored more than anyone else in the competition thus far, in fact, with nine (9).
Higuain is unlikely to be at Chelsea next season, but Giroud, even if offered a contract extension, may not be willing to settle for a backup role once again. The man just wants to be loved and valued at this point in his career — and Chelsea probably need a longer term solution than Oli G could provide at this point anyway.