Olivier Giroud, the leading goalscorer in the Europa League, is set to start (hopefully) the competition’s final in Baku in less than two weeks, but his future beyond that remains rather murky. His contract is expiring and he’s not too keen on playing second fiddle to the Gonzalo Higuaíns of this world.
Chelsea do have a club-option for an additional year, meaning that we can extend his contract without needing his express agreement, but doing so while he’s unhappy and wanting to leave would be somewhat counterproductive and would just add extra complication to an already complicated summer. Most reports so far have agreed that Chelsea want to exercise that option, but Giroud himself has sounded less certain about continuing down that path.
Meanwhile, interest in him remains high, especially back in France. OGC Nice, who finish out their season today with a match against ASSE, have been among the front runners, with director Gilles Grimandi (whom we might remember from his days as a versatile defensive player at Arsenal back when they were good) recently addressing the situation as well.
“I know him very well. I know him by heart. I was involved in his transfer from Montpellier to Arsenal. He will choose his destination.
“For now, we have not had any discussions, but he knows the means we have. If he decides to come, it’s because there is a project he likes. It’s not possible today [but] if he is not happy with Chelsea and he wants to play...
“We have to take into account all the options and study them. With Patrick Vieira, we talked about Olivier Giroud, but we did not talk with Olivier Giroud.”
-Gilles Grimandi; source: Canal+ via Sport
Grimandi was appointed sporting director at Nice just a couple months ago after twenty years at the Gunners as a player then as scout working mainly in France (thus the previous Giroud link), joining former Arsenal player Patrick Vieira who’s completing his first season as head coach on the Côte d’Azur.
Could Giroud be convinced to join that growing Arsenal cabal? As much as he’s enjoyed his time in Chelsea Blue, winning one trophy so far and hopefully adding a second on May 29, he’s not getting any younger and thus wants to make the most out of the time he has left in his playing career. If he decides that he wants to leave, it would be more than understandable.
My only concern is that if he does leave, Chelsea would probably be more likely to extend Higuaín instead...