French forward Olivier Giroud has revealed that Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was key in making up the player’s mind while switching clubs from Arsenal to join forces with the Italian at Stamford Bridge. Giroud had been flirting with a move away from the Emirates for the past few windows, and finally the striker was on his way out.
It was far from a static transfer window for the Gunners as there were several ins and outs. A significant out was Alexis Sanchez – who went to Manchester United in exchange for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. While the Armenian is a dynamic attacking midfielder, he does not provide a goal threat as that of the Chilean.
Thus, Wenger and the Arsenal board looked for another reinforcement and signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. It was a tad surprising as the Gunners had only made a club-record signing to sign Alexandre Lacazette in the summer, and roping in another player to replace him six months later made little sense.
Another player who was adversely affected by the acquisition of the Gabonese was Giroud. It seemed that the Frenchman would seep down to being third in the pecking order – something which he wasn’t willing to accept.
The Arsenal hierarchy did not stand in his way and let him leave the club after six years of service. He was also indirectly used as a sweetener in the deal that saw Arsenal sign Aubameyang, with Michy Batshuayi moving to Borussia Dortmund.
However, it is understood that Dortmund were initially hoping to sign Giroud, but instead of moving to the Bundesliga, he decided to stay put in London because of Conte’s attempts at making him a Chelsea player.
In an interview with Telefoot, Giroud said:
“I had offers from Dortmund, Sevilla and Roma. But Antonio Conte convinced me to join Chelsea.
“It made sense for me to take a new direction in my career. The coach wanted to recruit a new forward with Aubameyang. That made it three strikers at Arsenal, including me. That’s why I decided to leave.
“I spoke to Didier Deschamps about my situation. He did not tell me to join Chelsea, just to change club.”