Le buteur de charme (the charm striker) known as Olivier Giroud may not be your favoured striker but for the better part of a decade the Frenchman has displayed his tremendous technical ability producing impressive numbers in the process. Nonetheless the selfless striker has went under the radar in an era of illustrious goalscorers but does the forward merit greater recognition?
With his back to goal the 6 ft 4-inch striker is incredibly proficient occupying his role as a No.9 exquisitely. As a focal point in attack he has it all with intricate flicks, quick interchange and an eye for goal making it a struggle to find a target man as efficient as Giroud. However, the 32-year-old still fails to garner the credit he deserves.
The talented striker is no stranger to being undervalued. At the beginning of his career Giroud was deemed surplus to requirements when he returned to French club Grenoble despite impressing while on loan at Istres in the third tier scoring 14 goals.
Therefore, after nine years with local professional club Grenoble the Chambéry born star was on the move and found foot at Ligue 2 side Tours. Making 58 appearances the forward netted 30 times and was the league’s leading scorer with 21 goals in the 2009-10 season as well as earning the Player of the Year award.
The French star’s flying form didn’t go unnoticed and Montpellier came calling to sign the striker in 2010. He became the club’s leading talisman and his goals single-handedly delivered Montpellier their first and only Ligue 1 title in 2011-12. Giroud won the golden boot with 21 goals and provided a further 9 assists.
Catching A Break.
In the summer following his title winning season with Montpellier, Giroud was highly sought after and it was Arsenal who won the race to sign him for close to £10 million. During his time with the Gunners the Frenchman made 253 appearances scoring 105 times including a spectacular scorpion kick in 2017 against Crystal Palace which was voted the winner of the 2017 FIFA Puskas award. Giroud added three FA Cup’s to his medal haul during his time in North London scoring once and assisting Aaron Ramsey twice in the finals.
At Arsenal the striker displayed his heading prowess and sublime finishing capability on a worldwide stage solidifying his place in the France National squad. Having been capped 89 times by his country Giroud is the third highest goalscroer of all-time for Les Bleus with 35 goals trailing just to Michel Platini (41) and Thierry Henry (51). Not bad company.
After falling out of favour with Arsene Wenger and the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng from Borussia Dortmund, Giroud packed his bags again but didn’t have to look far for a permanent move. Chelsea acquired the services of the silky striker in January 2018 and after five-and-a-half seasons Giroud moved across London swapping red for blue to prolong his stay in England’s top flight.
Starring in Bleu.
Leading up to the 2018 World Cup the new Chelsea striker found the net on five occasions which isn’t exactly chart-topping form but it was enough to see Giroud preferred by France manager Didier Deschamps who feels the forward is “pivotal” to his team’s gameplay.
Indeed, it was at the World Cup itself were Olivier came under unfair criticism for failing to score in any of the seven games that saw his country lift the Jules Rimet Trophy.
Giroud didn’t even carve out a single shot on target in 546 minutes of action at the tournament but it was with his back to goal that the No.9 proved his value and his presence empowered others around him to flourish.
Although goal shy, the striker was no doubt the unsung hero of the star-studded France line-up. Having been selected ahead of Anthony Martial, Alexandre Lacazette and Ousmane Dembele Giroud was picked due to his style of play. His role was to link-up with the dangerous duo of Kylian Mbappe and Antoinne Griezmann who were there to score the goals and both found the net four times each in Russia.
Despite limited game-time Olivier Giroud has scored 11 times for Chelsea this season and stands at the top of the Europa League standings with nine goals after a perfect hat-trick against Dynamo Kyiv earlier this month.
However, national manager Deschamps is wary of the target man’s ability and feels Giroud’s workmanlike performances are unjustly dismissed.
“He is less used by his club but when he plays in the Europa League, he also scores. His pivotal presence is very useful to the team.
“He comes back from a difficult time; he is an unfairly decried player.” (Goal.com)
With that being said it’s hard to believe that a man with such achievements is continuously frowned upon when talking about top-rated strikers. Giroud has scored everywhere he’s been and has an average slightly below a goal every 2 games. His immaculate first touch is hard to match and his selfless work-rate is paramount to his team’s success.
Olivier Giroud may not grab all the headlines for himself but around him players thrive and that quality is what separates the Frenchman from out-and-out strikers and is why he is the most underrated striker of the last decade.