It was a summer all about France as they became world champions for a second time in Russia but if there was one negative pointed at Les Bleus it was that their forward Olivier Giroud failed to score in all 7 World Cup games.
It got to the stage that every time France completed a game at the World Cup it felt embarrassing almost awkward to repeatedly see Giroud finish it with no goals despite the fact that France scored 11 times alone in the knock out stages and Giroud had 13 shots on goal. But Giroud wasn’t useless in the team, because even though he failed to score he held up the ball and was able to bring in Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann into the game. A bold example was in the semi final against Belgium when he dropped back and defended well.
When France won the World Cup Giroud was cheered just as loudly as any other French player by the French public, they understood his ‘silent’ contributions. But still it would have chipped away at Giroud that he wasn’t scoring goals and that was very evident at the weekend when he scored against the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League.
It was a smart goal too, a quick shot flick in from a pacey cross and it ended up being the winning goal in a 2-1 defeat of the Dutch. Friendlies aside this was his first competitive goal for France since last October when he got the winner against Belarus in a World Cup qualifier. The relief was immense with his latest goal and seemed to shake off his uncertainty as a forward, it was no surprise to see him sink to his knees and his teammates surrounded him. For that moment it wasn’t about going in front it was about his own personal coming back.
The goal was significant too as it put him past Zinedine Zidane in France’s top ever goal scorers list with 32. Even though Giroud is the ripe old footballing age of 31 and will be 32 by the end of this month there are no signs of him retiring from international duty just yet and so he should be able to pass David Trezeguet, needing 3 more goals to do so to enter the top 3, that’s no mean feat and should be remembered every time someone wants to point to his goal scoring record.
So with Giroud finding himself once again how will this bode for Chelsea? At the Blues he has played 3 games so far this season with no return. Overall in his career with Chelsea he has played 21 games and netted 3 times and it does seem a lack of opportunity and age is catching up with him.
Does current Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri have the patience with the Frenchman is the key question? It is still, after all, seen as a shock that Chelsea came in for Giroud when most people would have expected a lesser quality team to be after his trade. Perhaps that could have been the perfect fit for Giroud to get more playing time and score more goals. Under Chelsea who want everything and with expectations that are much higher, Giroud, who is not in the prime of his footballing days could feel more frustrated and lack more confidence if he stays. A move away from Stamford Bridge in January would not be a surprise.