It is January 2018 and Chelsea are in the market for a new striker. And rather specifically, a physically imposing striker who can lead the attack alone.
That appears to be the club’s only criteria. Top-level ability, injury records, past experiences, all of that is out of the window. In this instance, size really does matter.
Andy Carroll is the first forward linked. Christian Benteke’s name is mentioned soon after. Then comes word Stoke City have been contacted over a deal for 36-year-old Peter Crouch. Days later, it’s reported by Sky Sports Chelsea have expressed an interest in Burnley’s Ashley Barnes.
Before the end of the transfer window, Fernando Llorente and Islam Slimani have also been mooted as targets. A deal for Edin Dzeko is also a possibility.
Fortunately, Chelsea remained patient. They didn’t panic and instead waited until the final hours of that transfer window for the best signing to present itself: Olivier Giroud.
The Blues signed the striker from Arsenal in a deal worth £18million and it didn’t take too long for the Frenchman to usurp the out-of-form Alvaro Morata in Antonio Conte’s starting XI.
It’s been three-and-a-half years since Giroud arrived at Stamford Bridge. In that time he has scored 39 goals for the Blues and won the FA Cup, Europa League, and the Champions League. The 34-year-old also won the World Cup with France mere months after joining Chelsea.
“He plays a key role in a squad which has a lot of young offensive players, he is a key figure,” Thomas Tuchel said in February.
“Not because he plays every three days for 96 minutes, but with the way he behaves and his experience on a daily basis.”
In April, Giroud’s contract at Chelsea was extended until the end of the 2021/22 campaign. It was a move done by the Blues to protect an asset in truth.
In the coming days, the France international is expected to complete a move to AC Milan in a deal worth around worth £1.7m. Giroud will receive a fond farewell from Blues supporters. His departure will, though, only intensify the speculation surrounding Erling Haaland.
Chelsea are in pursuit of the Norwegian, who has scored 57 goals in 59 games for Borussia Dortmund since joining the club a little more than 18 months ago. Yet the fee being demanded by the Bundesliga side – in excess of £150m – is a huge stumbling block to overcome.
“Nothing has changed,” Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc told Bild over the weekend. “We are still planning with Erling for the new season.”
That is not as defiant a message as could’ve been issued by Zorc. The door is ajar, a deal can happen. It’s on Chelsea to stump up the cash.
Fortunately, the Blues appear ready to wait Dortmund out for as long as possible. They have not sounded out a host of other options, countless agents have not been contacted over potential deals for their clients. Chelsea are once again remaining patient.
Good thing, too, as when the club has been reactive in the transfer market, it has rarely ended well; see the respective fortunes of Alvaro Morata and Kepa Arrizabalga at Stamford Bridge for proof of that.
Chelsea held their nerve in January 2018 and it resulted in Giroud’s signing. Blues supporters will hope a similar scenario plays out this time around, even if it means having to wait several weeks for Haaland.
Source by Football London