Olivier Giroud has been tied down to another year of contract at Chelsea in a surprise U-turn over his future.
French striker Giroud was out of contract at the end of the season and was widely expected to move on. He scored some important goals on their way to winning the Champions League in 2020-21, but starts were hard to come by. He had been weighing up his options for a long time and it seemed he would finally leave Stamford Bridge this year.
AC Milan seemed the most likely destination for the 34-year-old, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic even welcomed his potential arrival.
But in a surprise turnaround, Chelsea have confirmed that they activated an option to extend Giroud’s contract in April.
That means he is now no longer going to be a free agent in the summer. Instead, he will remain at Chelsea until 2022.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia told their club website: “Olivier has been such a crucial part of so many big moments for this club, from his contribution to our FA Cup victory in 2018 to scoring 11 goals on the way to winning the Europa League in 2019.
“He has continued to score significant goals, and we will never forget his effort against Atletico Madrid on the way to winning the Champions League this season.
“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.”
Giroud originally joined Chelsea from Arsenal in January 2018. He has gone on to score 39 goals in 119 appearances for them.
In that time, the Blues have won three major honours and they will be pushing for more next season.
Tuchel and Silva staying
Chelsea’s announcement of the Giroud deal comes after they confirmed contract extensions for Thomas Tuchel and Thiago Silva.
Head coach Tuchel was rewarded for leading the club to the Champions League trophy. He also guided them from ninth in the Premier League when he took over to an eventual top-four finish.
His original contract only lasted 18 months, but the club have activated a two-year extension to see him through until 2024.
As for Silva, the veteran defender has impressed since joining from Paris Saint-Germain last summer. Chelsea had the option to extend his one-year deal by an additional 12 months and that decision was a no-brainer.
But their renewal of Giroud certainly comes as more of a surprise, especially when he was so heavily linked with Milan.
Theoretically, the Serie A side could still sign him, but they would have to pay a transfer fee. Indeed, his agents have since told Calciomercato: “Chelsea exercised a unilateral option, but with the promise he’d be released if there was an offer from a foreign club.”
But as things stand, Giroud will be playing for Chelsea again next season.