The 2020-21 Premier League campaign marks Olivier Giroud’s 10th season in England, and it’s fair to say that within his time in the competition, he has certainly divided opinion. But, as a pivotal decision in the Frenchman’s career is seemingly on the horizon, is it time to finally put some respect on his name?
Rumours are rife that the 34-year-old is going to leave Stamford Bridge this January, with David Beckham’s Major League Soccer franchise Inter Miami being one of many possible destinations being tipped in the betting exchange.
France boss Didier Deschamps has told Giroud that he needs more game time if he wants to be picked for Les Bleus’ Euro 2021 squad, and the striker himself has even hinted that he could make the decision to leave Stamford Bridge this January if he doesn’t start receiving more game time.
“At the start of the campaign, I thought I could still help the team, but my playing time has gone down significantly, so that will need to change or I’ll have to make a decision,” Giroud told French media outlet Telefoot.
The 34-year-old’s game time has been limited this season, with just 36 minutes spread across four league outings, whilst his rare appearance from the bench with just over 20 minutes remaining in the Champions League against Rennes was just his second appearance this year’s competition, with his other outing amounting to just 27 minutes in the home fixture against the French side.
However, it was Giroud who stepped up to the mark, scoring the winning goal in the dying embers of the game, and guaranteeing the Blues their place in the Champions League knockout stages with still two games remaining.
It was a well-taken goal, with the Frenchman climbing high to head home the rebound after Timo Werner’s earlier effort was denied by Alfred Gomis. It was Giroud’s 12th goal for Chelsea in Europe since joining from London rivals Arsenal in 2017, which is more than any other Blues player has managed in that timeframe, and it sparked debate in the BT studio afterwards.
“It was a great header from Giroud. That was amazing,” former Chelsea player Joe Cole. “There’s a reason why Didier Deschamps relies on him for France.
“It’s not just moments like today such as getting the winning goal, it’s his general demeanour around the place, he’s a good player in the dressing room.
“I think he’s one of the Premier League’s most underrated players, he has consistently performed whether it be for Arsenal or Chelsea.”
Many people would be quick to pass on Cole’s comments. However, the French striker does boast a pretty impressive goalscoring record. In his six years at the Emirates, Giroud scored 73 goals in 180 Premier League appearances, and racked up a total of 104 goals in 250 outings across all competitions, not bad, right?
The 34-year-old has been little more than a bit-part player since arriving at Stamford Bridge, but has still managed to score 30 goals in 96 appearances – mostly as a substitute.
Giroud may not go down in history as one of the best strikers to have ever graced the Premier League, but given his continuous ability to find the back of the net with very little minutes, it’s fair to say that he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.