With the rather sudden U-turn of Olivier Giroud extending his Chelsea stay for another year, plenty of questions have arisen, as well as plenty of answers.
It seemed for all the world as though his west London stay was set to end in January, with clubs abroad and close to home tracking his every move with an eye on offering the Frenchman regular playing time.
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The ongoing rumblings of the striker needing to move away from the Blues in order to seek the game time he – supposedly – needed to remain a fixture in Didier Deschamps’ national side meant a Chelsea stay seemed less and less likely.
Alas, a Stamford Bridge departure didn’t materialise and he remained with Frank Lampard’s side, in the end showing the world he wasn’t a lost cause despite his age. Having returned to the starting lineup in Tammy Abraham’s injury absence, he netted two goals in four Premier League outings prior to football being halted, demonstrating his worth to the squad, but more importantly, Lampard.
With his performances warranting a rethink at the club, the change of heart from his manager not only makes sense, but may also act as foreshadowing for the upcoming summer window.
We’re all well aware that Lampard’s preference is to field Abraham in the lone striking role, as when the Englishman is fully fit, he’s getting the nod in attack. As he should, too, since his 13 goals and four assists are a hugely commendable return for someone in their debut top-flight campaign for the club.
But as Giroud has shown throughout his tenure in England, he remains a hugely reliable plan B. Granted, age is no longer on his side, but looking across Europe there are precious few centre-forwards with link-up and hold-up play quite as accomplished as his. So, by that reckoning, Lampard has had his own U-turn, of sorts, and made a worthwhile footballing decision.
Giroud will help the team. Perhaps not all the time, but certainly on enough occasions to warrant the extension.
Then there is the logical and financial reasons behind it, both of which go hand-in-hand. The club would be hard pressed to find a back-up striker with knowledge of the Premier League who is both capable and, more importantly, willing to slot in as number two.
Giroud is aware that his age will always leave clubs slightly tentative to start him each week when there are younger players available, and Chelsea have someone ready-made within the squad to pick up the mantle of second striker. That much will have been made clear during the contract talks. So why look elsewhere?
That also rolls over into the financial argument; if the Blues had sold Giroud for the £5m that was mooted in January, that wouldn’t buy a top European striker’s left boot, let alone the whole lot.
As we’ve seen with both Chelsea’s and Tottenham’s difficulties, to name just two, securing a top-level forward in the current market is both troublesome and expensive. Not to mention one of the more fundamental issues of the upcoming market; the enforced postponement of football due to coronavirus is going to wreak havoc on all clubs’ finances, more so than it already has.
The former Arsenal man is on roughly £100k-per-week with the Blues. Any other player they may or may not bring in (barring the obvious high transfer fee) will likely earn more, so even from this point of view the move suits the current climate.
Which segues into the final point, that it now looks like Chelsea’s summer transfer dealings have altered. Lampard made it crystal clear that he wanted forward additions in January – almost every week – but this news suggests those dealings could be on hold for another eight months at least.
Out wide there could still be additions, especially given that Willian looks to be heading out of the exit door, but in the striker role they may hold fast and keep the purse strings tightened. Michy Batshuayi could well leave anyway, in which case they may need to dip into the market, but Giroud’s extension at least lessens the need for a major overhaul.
It may not excite the Blues fans all too much, but they should be glad they had this option in the first place. Home comforts and all that, right?