Chelsea fans have been preparing for striker Olivier Giroud’s exit for months. He was close to going in January and was expected to walk away for free this summer, but now it is thought that the Blues have triggered an automatic extension in his contract.
Giroud proved to be Chelsea’s most reliable backup before the Premier League was postponed, forcing his way past Michy Batshuayi in the pecking order and bagging two goals in his last three games, but a contract extension remained uncertain.
There have been plenty of reports of failed negotiations between Chelsea and Giroud, but now Gianluca Di Marzio has revealed that the Blues have triggered a mysterious option to extend his deal – something which nobody seemed to know was a possibility.
It may have come as a surprise, but it really is good news for Chelsea, and you only have to look at Giroud’s ‘recent’ performances for proof of that.
With Tammy Abraham out injured, Frank Lampard turned to Giroud in search of a reliable goalscorer. The Frenchman didn’t set the world on fire, but goals against Tottenham Hotspur and Everton proved his worth.
His famed link-up play worked wonders for Chelsea’s wingers and midfielders, and there’s no doubting that he had a more positive impact on the Blues than Batshuayi has ever managed (apart from the odd important goal).
If Chelsea have extended Giroud’s contract to keep him around at Stamford Bridge, then great. However, Di Marzio also notes that the 33-year-old could simply be sold on for a small fee instead – especially if Chelsea land Napoli‘s Dries Mertens.
Di Marzio has confirmed previous reports of Chelsea’s contact with the Belgian. The Blues are looking to bring Mertens to Stamford Bridge on a free transfer this summer, and that’s another good idea coming out of the boardroom at the Bridge.
Two good ideas in one day? That’s more like it.
Mertens would be an obvious upgrade on Giroud (and Batshuayi). His goal record is far superior, and apart from this season, he has found the back of the net at a fantastic rate, which is exactly what Chelsea need.
You only have to look at the numbers to see just how badly Chelsea have missed having a prolific striker on the team. Per the Premier League’s stats, Chelsea’s 481 shots is second only to Manchester City‘s 541, while their 53 missed big chances is also second to the Cityzens’ 62. The Blues are creating so many chances, but they’re just not scoring enough.
Bringing in the man who recently became Napoli’s record goalscorer sounds like the perfect answer to that problem – and doing it on a free would be even better.
Given Mertens will be 33 by the time next season starts, avoiding spending a big fee on him would be smart. That would free up some money to be spent on other areas of the squad, and it’s no secret that Chelsea have more than a few areas in the squad which need improvement.
One of those areas which needs fixing is out wide. Willian and Pedro both look set to leave this summer, and the imminent arrival of Hakim Ziyech isn’t going to be enough. Fortunately, Mertens could help out in that department.
Before Maurizio Sarri’s masterstroke of moving Mertens to striker, he was a fairly prolific winger, so he could easily be deployed out wide at Stamford Bridge and allow Abraham to retain his place as first-choice striker.
Mertens would be an affordable, short-term fix to Chelsea’s problems in attack, and that’s all the Blues need. Pursuing him should be a no-brainer, but keeping Giroud around is a solid alternative.