If we start listing the names of all the top professionals at Chelsea, a certain French striker surely is on the top or at its whereabouts. Olivier Giroud, who joined Chelsea in January 2018, has often had to settle for the back-up role, but has hardly complained. He’s had some questionable players start ahead of him, including Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain, and most recently the inexperienced Tammy Abraham. Having won the World Cup by playing a major role in all games, one would assume a striker to have a certain ego and question the coaching staff openly about the reason he’s not featuring ahead of the other players in his position. However, being an understanding man as he is, he did not once complain about his lack of playing time, and would rather help his competitors in improving certain aspects of their game.
Having made 76 appearances for the Blues and scoring just 21 goals, one could argue that he is not the most prolific goal scorer. However, his role in the side is often misunderstood, for both his club as well as his national side. Despite having a star studded team to choose from, Didier Deschamps always picks Olivier Giroud, even when he’s not featuring regularly at the club level. Hence, while Giroud often gets discredited for his “poor” World Cup performances, anyone with a tiny bit of football intelligence can process that his role, in fact, is that of a target man and not a clinical finisher. His job is simply creation of space for the wingers as well as Griezmann who featured just behind him. Any goal scored is an added bonus, but contributing to a goal and not in a direct manner is an attribute possessed by few. Therefore, while some fan bases continue to ridicule him for his goal scoring stats, the true intellectuals appreciate him for his contribution to the side.
For this reason, Giroud also excelled in the tail end of last season, bringing the best out of Eden Hazard, for which he received huge praise from the Belgian. He played a crucial role in the little magician’s hatrick against Cardiff City. His remarkable performances in the Europa League, including a memorable final victory against his former side Arsenal, saw him finish the competition with 11 goals and five assists, being robbed of the Player of The Competition by Eden Hazard. Our striking issues saw him slot into the starting XI on several occasions, and concluded the season with close to 2200 minutes.
Under Frank Lampard, his name hasn’t been consistent on the team sheet. Despite having a transfer ban and three strikers of similar quality, Giroud has found it very hard to get game time this season. Tammy Abraham’s fantastic form has only reduced his role even further, with Batshuayi being preferred to the French striker as an impact substitute. He did have a promising performance against Liverpool in the Super Cup, which we eventually lost on penalties. Nagging injuries to Tammy coupled with Batshuayi’s poor form meant a revival of Olivier Giroud at Chelsea, and Giroud has managed to accumulate 684 minutes this season so far, even after failing to make the bench on 17 occasions this campaign. He was tipped to leave the club in January having managed just 281 minutes of action until the turn of the year. However, with Chelsea’s bid to sign another centre forward ending unfruitful, Giroud’s move to France fell through in the dying moments of the deadline day.
Throughout this period, he has remained as professional as one could- never bad-mouthed the manager, never went on strike to get his wish, and did not cause a divide in the dressing room. When we scrutinise how the club treated him- did not give him sufficient playing time, accepted a transfer for him to leave to his home country but pulled the plug on the deal in the last minute- we must applaud his calm nature and reluctance to portray a negative reaction. This behaviour saw him rewarded with a significant rise in play time, and he has put in some impressive performances.
Several sources have now confirmed that Chelsea have triggered the one-year extension in Giroud’s contract that was due to expire in the summer. Had the pandemic not disrupted the regular football season, Chelsea looked all set to splash the cash in the summer, with a striker being high on the priority list. With loose purse strings and a list of options available on the market, a striker was destined to come to Stamford Bridge. However, with a reduction in revenue and huge losses that have accumulated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, along with the commendable philanthropic activities of our club, the summer transfer kitty is bound to be on a leash. With other positions requiring investment at the moment, Chelsea might decide not to sign a competitor for Tammy. Frank Lampard’s faith in the English talisman could also see him reject a chance to sign a mediocre striker for the sake of it. This situation would allow Giroud to take up the back-up striker role, as Batshuayi is definitely on his way out of the club when the transfer window opens.
If we do sign another striker, the worst-case scenario would be to allow Giroud to leave for a small fee instead of on a free, should he demand to exit London in the summer. With no shortage of potential suitors for the experienced World Champion, Chelsea could even keep him until the end of the transfer window and then choose to allow him to leave if we can sign a replacement. Everything considered, extending his contract is a no-brainer. Whether he is still a Chelsea player before the next season commences is yet to be seen, but for now, I am personally glad that Olivier Giroud is still a player who dons the Royal Blue of the Pride of London.
Edited by: Dan