However, the France international is highly unlikely to leave North London. Here’s why…
Whilst Olivier Giroud is certainly not as prolific in front of goal as Luis Suarez or former Arsenal captain Robin van Persie, the 27-year-old has scored 20 goals in all competitions this term, which is no small feat. Has he fired the Gunners to glory? No – but 20 goals is a decent return and 15 goals in the Premier League puts him joint-sixth in terms of the league’s top scorers, ahead of strikers Arsenal are presently linked with such as Loic Remy and Edin Dzeko.
Furthermore, his contribution to team goals and goals scored by his teammates is important – especially to Arsene Wenger whose philosophy is based on passing if a teammate is in a more dangerous position. Giroud has made eight assists in all competitions and some of those goals have been fantastic team goals. He is on board with Wenger’s philosophy of the collective and has certainly improved this season in terms of the positions he takes up and the runs he makes.
Speaking of which, Wenger has clearly worked hard on the training ground with Giroud over the last two seasons since he arrived from Ligue 1. The French coach has developed him from a traditional target man into a functioning deep-lying striker who can get involved in build up play, assist teammates, use his movement to create space for others and the whole Arsenal attacking setup now is based around his movement which is why Wenger won’t play Lukas Podolski, the better finisher, in that role. It’s the same reason Wenger opts to use Yaya Sanogo as cover – because Sanogo is more similar in his functionality to Giroud.
Wenger will be more than a little reluctant to sell a player he has spent two years of his career working hard to improve, especially when there is clear progress being made in terms of his goals, assists and overall play. Giroud is 27 and that’s the kind of age strikers start to hit their peak predominantly – I can’t see Wenger handing over a 20-plus-goals-per-season striker just coming to fruition over to another club.
Meanwhile, Arsenal need another striker as well as Giroud, not a replacement. It defeats the object to sell Giroud – they need competition and cover for Giroud, greater strength in depth and potentially a different kind of striker to give another option and make a genuine difference in games where Giroud isn’t proving effective. If Wenger sells Giroud and brings someone else in, the Gunners are no better off in real terms as they would still be short a man in the forward department of their squad.
He has a contract until 2017 – he is going nowhere. We know how much of a stickler Wenger is for giving players contract extensions and agreeing to wage packets and it’s clear that he intends for Giroud to stay on a long-term basis. By 2017, Giroud will be 30 which, incidentally, is exactly the age Wenger usually starts pondering replacements for key players and offering them one-year rolling deals. That’s his policy and, for better or worse, the boss is unequivocal in terms of his approach and values. He won’t change now at the age of 64 and even if another manager came in to replace him at the Emirates, selling Giroud this summer would be detrimental to the balance and set up of the team for the reasons above.