Chelsea has triggered a clause that extends Olivier Giroud’s contract at the club until 2021.
Just 4 months ago, Giroud’s exit looked inevitable amid interest from several European clubs. A deal with Inter Milan had reportedly been agreed, but the deal fell through as Chelsea failed to secure a replacement for Giroud. Since then, Chelsea has been closely linked to Dries Mertens and Moussa Dembele, but what does this contract extension mean for Chelsea’s summer transfer plans?
Scenario 1: The extension does not change Chelsea’s transfer plans
Earlier this season, Frank Lampard openly admitted that Chelsea needed to strengthen in attack. With Lampard losing confidence in Michy Batshuayi prior to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is safe to assume that he will be replaced in the summer. If Chelsea is to sign a striker in the summer, it is highly unlikely that it will be someone who will play the role of Chelsea’s third striker.
The upcoming transfer window is deemed as a chance for Chelsea to rebuild its current squad, and it would not make sense to sign a third striker, especially given the current economic climate for all sports teams. This implies that should Chelsea sign a striker, it is likely that Giroud would become the club’s third striker option, just as he was earlier this season. For someone who aims to be in France’s Euro 2021 squad, he would want some amount of guaranteed playing time next season, which leads to the second scenario.
Scenario 2: Giroud departs despite the extension
As the extension is a result of Chelsea triggering a clause in Giroud’s contract, rather than it being a mutual agreement, one could assume he may still depart the club in the summer or during the January transfer window. At 33, Giroud will still want a guarantee on playing time if he is to stay at Chelsea, which is likely to be denied if Chelsea signs another striker in the summer.
Chelsea may have extended his contract as the club did not want to lose a player like Giroud on a free transfer. This extension gives Chelsea the option to consider any offers on the table for the Frenchman. As Chelsea looks to make up for lost ground as a result of last season’s transfer embargo, agreeing deals for their top transfer targets will be their priority. The Blues will look to spend big to secure their top targets, and the revenue earned from the sale of players like Giroud could prove the difference between sealing the deal and losing out on a player.
Scenario 3: Chelsea ends the striker pursuit
With Willian and Pedro yet to sign new contracts with Chelsea, it is safe to assume that neither will be at the club next season. This leaves two vacant spots in Chelsea’s attack – a spot for a fourth winger and a striker. Given the unstable economic situation faced by all sports teams as a result of the spread of Coronavirus, Chelsea may look at versatile players who can fill both roles. The strong links to Mertens suggest that this may be the case. However, with Mertens set to sign a new contract at Napoli, Chelsea will now have to look at other alternatives
Due to the ambiguity surrounding the restart of the Premier League and the financial impacts of the break, the Blues can put off buying a new striker until next year. This could be beneficial as it clears up room in the budget to spend on improving the defence, while also giving young Tammy Abraham another season to show the club whether he is ready to lead the attack in the future or not. With Abraham and Giroud, Chelsea has two very good strikers, each of whom will offer a different dimension to the team.
Trusting Giroud and Abraham and not buying a striker in the summer could also open a pathway for academy striker Armado Broja, who could become the third striker option for Chelsea. His 19 goals and five assists in 31 appearances this season at the youth level were enough for Lampard to hand him his senior debut in a 4-0 win against Everton. Lampard has proved that he is not afraid to play the youth, and may choose to trust his academy once again.
Giroud has always been hailed for his ability to make the players around him better, rather than his goalscoring ability. His excellent link-up play makes him one of the best—if not the best—target men in football. As he showed this season, he can prove to be an important and experienced player for the Blues, helping the team achieve its goals for next season.
But the question is, does the club feel that Abraham and Giroud are good enough to lead Chelsea in its pursuit of closing the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool?