Olivier Giroud says he wanted to leave because Arsenal were signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Didier Deschamps encouraged him to move on.
Giroud also had the chance to leave the Gunners over the summer, but that time he decided to stay. The striker explained his change of heart to French outlet TF1 (via L’Equipe): “My choice is simple. I wanted to stay this summer in Arsenal to try my luck even if Alex Lacazette had arrived.
“The coach wanted to recruit a forward striker, with Aubameyang. It would have made three advanced attackers. That’s why I wanted to leave.”
France manager Didier Deschamps also played a part in the move, as Giroud explained: “I called Didier Deschamps a week before the end of the transfer window because I needed his opinion. [He] encouraged me to change clubs.
“You know how attached I am to the national team and I want to play at a World Cup in Russia, which will surely be my last, so I have to give myself the best possible chance,” he said, adding that he “needed a new challenge, a new club”.
The third and final part of the puzzle was Antonio Conte. The chance to work with the manager who led Chelsea to the 2016/17 title was evidently a big draw.
“Dortmund were interested but for a loan deal, Sevilla too, my agent even got a call from Roma,” Giroud said. “He appreciates my profile, I hope we will do a good job together.”
To be honest, I think Deschamps was right to suggest a transfer.
From his point of view, it’s going to be hard enough for Lacazette to compete with Aubameyang. Giroud would probably have struggled to even get a look in for the side. Given they’re two key strikers for France, that’s not an ideal situation.
Both players still have a fight on their hands for game time. Aubameyang was impressive against Everton, and Alvaro Morata is still Chelsea’s joint leading scorer. At least they’ve got a bit more of a chance now they aren’t competing against each other though.
Hopefully Giroud made the right choice, and with any luck it doesn’t come back to haunt Arsenal either. If that’s not too much to ask.