The Blues forward has been fighting for his future in west London, a situation that will have ramifications at international level
Olivier Giroud has been here before.
The striker left Arsenal to protect his status as France’s first-choice centre-forward. He could be set to do likewise at Chelsea.
Frustrated by a lack of game time at the Emirates, and thus worried about his prospects of making Didier Deschamps’ squad for the 2018 World Cup, Giroud decided to make the short journey north to Stamford Bridge 18 months ago.
His January move couldn’t have worked out much better.
Whereas Arsenal finished the 2017-18 season without a trophy, Giroud helped Chelsea win the FA Cup before heading off to Russia to win the World Cup with France.
Giroud didn’t score during the tournament but played a pivotal role, drawing plaudits for the way in which he held the round ball up and created chances for fellow forwards Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
He continues to serve his country well, netting the opener in last week’s 1-1 draw with Euro 2020 qualification rivals Turkey. However, Giroud had begun that game in Saint-Denis on the bench, underlining that he has another fight on his hands to retain his starting spot.
At 33, it will not be an easy battle to win. He clearly needs game time, as Deschamps acknowledged.
“Olivier has been suffering in this situation [at Chelsea]. Before January, nothing will change,” the France coach told reporters in Paris. “After January, though, it will be up to him. I hope he will have more playing time.
“But we cannot forget about his goals, his good performances. He scores, he makes others play well. He knows he has been under pressure but he always responds.”
He certainly didn’t duck the issue when questioned about his future at club level during the international break.
“I still have some beautiful years in front of me,” he argued. “I still have the legs, a good healthy lifestyle and I feel good physically.
“I want to have fun and want to play more games. Chelsea has been my priority, but if in the end I’m forced to make a choice, I will do it, just like when I left Arsenal.”
His willingness to move has been understandable. Presently, he has played more minutes for France (258) this season than Chelsea (191) and hasn’t been picked by Lampard to start a game since August 18, against Leicester City.
He has been linked with a reunion with former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte at Inter, with some reports in Italy even claiming that the Frenchman’s relationship with Lampard has been “fractured” and “beyond repair”.
However, Lampard merely feels that Tammy Abraham deserves to lead the line right now.
Not only has been the 21-year-old in great form, with nine goals in all competitions, he also has the energy required to carry out the high pressing game that Lampard has been now demanding of his Chelsea forwards.
Lampard, though, can perfectly understand why Giroud has been considering a January transfer.
“I have had a good chat with Oli before he went away,” the former England midfielder said after his side’s 1-0 win over Newcastle at the weekend. “I always respect all the players, particularly of his age.
“I was in that sort of low-30s age. I love his professionalism. He was bang on when he spoke to me. He was bang on with his quotes when he was away with France.
“He shouldn’t be happy and accept not playing. That’s what good players do. As I said to Oli, he will get his games and be a big influence for us.
“At the moment, because of how Tammy has been playing at the moment, there haven’t been as many minutes. So, that will be something I will happily sit down and discuss with Oli in January.
“But January has been quite a long way away.”
However, it’s not just that Giroud has been behind Abraham in the pecking order, it’s that he may not even be ahead of Michy Batshuayi.
Giroud has scored just one goal for Chelsea this season, against Liverpool in the Super Cup; Batshuayi has three, and in even fewer minutes (135).
That has been not a good look for a soccer professional that will likely be competing with Alexandre Lacazette, Wissam Ben Yedder and perhaps even Anthony Martial for the right to lead the France attack at Euro 2020.
However, he will not be short on offers when the winter window opens. After all, this has been a powerful forward who scored 11 times as Chelsea won the Europa League last season. He remains an effective centre-forward, one whose contract has been set to expire at the end of the season.
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Giroud will continue to fight for his place at Stamford Bridge and he has been renowned for his willingness to put the needs of the team ahead of his own.
However, he will do whatever has been necessary to keep his place in the France squad, even if that means asking for a transfer in January.
Giroud has been an unselfish No.9. It came as something of a surprise when he pushed for a transfer in January 2018. It would be nothing of the sort, though, if history repeats itself in January 2020.