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20 Feb 2018

Olivier Giroud reveals conversation with Arsene Wenger before his Chelsea transfer

Olivier Giroud has praised the conduct of Arsene Wenger in putting his striker’s personal interests ahead of those of Arsenal.

The France international joined Chelsea on deadline day for £18million after Wenger sanctioned a move that would strengthen a direct rival because, Giroud explained, it “would p*** him off” if spending half a season on the Arsenal bench cost the 31-year-old a place at the World Cup.

Giroud’s departure untangled a knot that allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to join Arsenal in a club record £56m deal.

Had he stayed the Frenchman would likely have been demoted to third choice centre-forward behind Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, the £53m summer signing whose arrival had already largely confined Giroud to Arsenal’s second-choice XI.

“I went to see the coach to ask him where he was with Aubameyang,” Giroud told France Football. “I put him under a bit of pressure, like my agent, who I spoke to several times a day. It is normal. I did not want to be deprived of going to Chelsea, which was the best solution for me.

“The coach immediately said to me: ‘Don't worry, I will do my best so that you are happy’. On one side, it was normal. I had never asked to leave.”

“On the other, I knew that he would not cause problems given the relationship we had always had. He even said to me that it would p*** him off if I did not go to Russia.”

Even before Lacazette’s arrival Giroud had largely been confined to Arsenal’s supporting cast, with Alexis Sanchez spending much of last season as the Gunners centre forward.

Giroud made a string of telling contributions over his final 18 months at the Emirates Stadium, scoring late winners against the likes of Leicester, West Brom and Red Star Belgrade.

“It was frustrating at Arsenal obviously,” he admitted. “For a year and a half, it went from bad to worse. I could no longer continue like that.

“I could not bring myself to spend another year at Arsenal and remain a reserve, even a second reserve. The future looked gloomy with the arrival of a new striker.”

Giroud has made an impressive start to his time at Chelsea, providing three assists in as many games and scoring his first goal in a 4-0 win over Hull in the FA Cup fifth round.

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