Olivier Giroud – Underrated Legend?

When the name Olivier Giroud is mentioned in a football conversation, it’s usually the same things that are said.

He’s got a great first touch, his link-up play is fantastic, he’s the ideal target man – but he doesn’t score enough goals for the top clubs. Looking at his numbers at club level, you could probably justify that argument too.

At Montpellier he won Ligue 1 and finished the season as the top goalscorer with 21 goals, winning the golden boot for more open play goals than PSG striker Nene. He then signed for Arsenal and was their starting striker from the summer of 2012 all the way up until Alexandre Lacazette’s arrival in 2017. During his spell as the first-team striker, Giroud hit 20 goals in all competitions just twice and never hit more than 16 league goals during that period either. He then moved to Chelsea to pursue regular first-team football but he hasn’t been able to secure the starting role. The closest he came was during the run-in of the 2019-20 season where he eventually overtook Tammy Abraham and ended the season with 10 goals in 25 games.

That has never been the case for Giroud when it comes to the France national team though. He made his international debut in 2011, aged 25, under then manager Laurent Blanc in the friendly against the USA before also featuring in the friendly with Belgium a few days later. Since then though, he’s essentially become a regular in the squad and has made over 10 appearances in every calendar year except 2014 (he made 9).

Since the arrival of Didier Deschamps he has essentially been the first choice striker in the squad too. Despite the emergence of talent such as Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial, Kylian Mbappe, Wassim Ben Yedder and more, it’s Giroud who has nailed down the centre-forward role with Deschamps praising his ability to link all the other talented players in the squad together.

This trust and faith in him from the World Cup winning captain and manager saw Giroud make his 100th international appearance on Wednesday night against Ukraine. The Chelsea striker scored twice on the night, his 41st and 42nd goals of his France career, moving him ahead of the legendary Michel Platini into second place on the all-time top goalscorer charts for his nation.

He is now just nine goals behind Thierry Henry at the top of the charts and at the age of 34 you’d usually assume that that is too much of a gap to bridge at this stage. However with the current international schedule, he could do it.

France are due to take on Portugal and Croatia during this international break, before further fixtures against Finland, Portugal and Sweden in November. After that France will likely have some fixtures to play during the March international break followed by the Euro 2020 tournament. If France were to make it to the final of that tournament, Giroud would have the possibility of making a further FIFTEEN times in a France shirt before the end of next season. With his form for France, there is every chance he could secure that all-time record.

His club level career has been somewhat underwhelming and he seems to be remembered in England as the striker who was good, but not good enough for the top of the top. For his country though, he will surely go down as a legend and one of their greatest strikers.

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