Will Chelsea sign a striker this summer?
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Chelsea’s decision to extend Olivier Giroud’s contract could throw a spanner into the works of one of their other pieces of business in the summer transfer window. The Blues have taken the option to extend the Frenchman’s deal for another year to protect themselves against losing him for free at the end of June.
On the face of it, it is a canny move from Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia, who has developed a reputation for being an astute operator.
Giroud will turn 35 in February and made just 14 starts across the entire 2020/21 season under Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel.
The veteran striker still managed to score 11 goals – including four in a single game against Sevilla in the Champions League – and would make a useful back-up option for Tuchel next season.
He had been widely expected to leave Chelsea this summer, having struggled for game time and come close to an exit in the last two transfer windows.
However, Chelsea sprung a surprise by announcing on Friday that they had in fact agreed to an extension in April.
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“With so much to still to play for, there was only one decision we could make when we exercised the option to extend his contract back in April,” Granovskaia said.
That of course now means that any club who wants Giroud will have to pay Chelsea a transfer fee, because he will no longer be a free agent on July 1.
It is a smart and sensible move from Granovskaia, but it could still have knock-on effects.
Before the extension was announced there had been credible reports that AC Milan were on the brink of signing Giroud.
Milan News 24 reported that Giroud has already agreed to a two-year deal worth £3million (€3.5m) per season plus bonuses with the Italian club and had started looking for houses in the city.
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That move has now hit the buffers and Italian newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport says the extension has created ‘tension’ between the two clubs.
That could be a problem for Chelsea because they are busy trying to sell Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan following a hugely successful loan spell for the young defender.
The report says Milan were getting close to negotiating down Chelsea’s £24m (€28m) asking price, but the Giroud extension caught them completely off guard.
There is now a ‘war of nerves’ between the two clubs, who could have to engage in tetchy conversations over Giroud and Tomori.
Although his lack of game time at Chelsea did not stop him being selected for France’s Euro 2020 squad, Giroud still wants to leave west London.
Giroud’s agents are therefore working to ‘calm the waters’ before Granovskaia is due to speak with her Milan counterparts on Monday.
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