Is Olivier Giroud to West Ham the perfect move for all parties?

Is Olivier Giroud to West Ham the perfect move for all parties?

This summer marks five years since Arsenal lost their captain, Robin Van Persie, to title rivals Manchester United for a measly 24 million pounds.

The deal was in the pipeline for some time, leading Arsene Wenger to seek attacking alternatives.

A month earlier he had turned to Montpellier’s top goal scorer during their first ever Ligue 1 winning campaign, Frenchman Olivier Giroud.

“He has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air, with a great work ethic,” said Wenger at the time of his signing, “he will add an additional dimension to our attacking options next season.”

Arsenal fans have never collectively agreed over whether Arsene’s promises have been fulfilled since Giroud’s arrival.

But for £12 million, 98 goals and 41 assists is hardly deemed a poor return; averaging at 20 goals a season in what many consider as the world’s most competitive league.

What sends it home more than most is the fact that only Sergio Aguero, Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane have scored more goals in the Premier League since his arrival.

But this season Giroud featured in his second fewest amount of games since joining the club, with Wenger opting for Alexis Sanchez or Theo Walcott as his first choice forward.

With this came the inevitable onslaught of reports suggesting the Frenchman is becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of first team football, sparking the interest of clubs such as Lyon, Marseille and, more notably, West Ham United.

And with Giroud fighting for his place in one of the most competitive French national sides for years ahead of next summer’s World Cup you can understand his alleged concerns.

But would a move to West Ham be an ideal proposition for Arsenal’s 30-year-old forward?

There is no denying that the Hammers’ style of attacking play fits perfectly with that of Giroud as 30% of their Premier League goals last season came via headers.

Giroud himself was the league’s top goal scorer with his head; 6 of his 12 goals came via that area of his body.

Not to mention the fact that Slaven Bilic’s men thrive with a target man in their line-up; as illustrated by the fact that Andy Carroll was the club’s third top goal scorer in the league this season with 7 goals, despite only starting 18 games.

Olivier Giroud will also provide the Hammers with a more reliable option than Andy Carroll; the Frenchman has only missed 28 games through injury – despite a broken foot in 2014 – since his arrival in England.

When compared to Carroll’s staggering 145 game absence in the same time frame, the East London side’s interest in Arsenal’s forward becomes understandable.

Giroud’s ability to create goal scoring chances will also interest Bilic; last season no West Ham player except Dimitri Payet achieved more assists in the league than the Arsenal forward.

Despite the West Ham boss stating his desire to bring in some pace to his side this summer, the acquisition of Giroud will go some way to achieving his want for a recognised goal scorer.

“It is not all about pace,” said Bilic, “It is the balance which is all-important. The biggest clubs can find and sign players who have everything. The rest of us have to search for the balance.”

Speaking directly about Giroud on ITV during last year’s European Championships, Slaven Bilic noted: “He’s maybe a victim of playing for a big, big club when basically you have to score week-in, week-out.

“His record, not only for France but for Arsenal, speaks for itself. He’s a great player.”

Recent reports suggest West Ham are ready to offer a club-record contract for the French striker, with a £20 million bid on the table.

And with names such as Kelechi Iheanacho emerging as likely targets for the Hammers also, this summer could prove to be a fruitful one at the London stadium.

But with Giroud signing a new long-term deal with the club as recently as January, questions must be asked over why the Gunners would be willing to sell up?

Rumours linking the Gunners to forwards across the globe have become a yearly tradition as far as Arsenal fans are concerned.

On countless occasions have the Gunners faithful been sold false promises of imminent arrivals ranging from the Benzemas to the Henry Onyekurus.

One name that continues to arise is that of Alexandre Lacazette; the Lyon forward who has taken the fancy of Arsene Wenger for many years.

And with 28 goals in 30 Ligue 1 games last season you can see why the Arsenal boss has expressed such an interest over recent summers.

But how much better is Lacazette than his French counterpart, who is currently ahead of him in the pecking order for France?

Despite the Lyon front man playing considerably more minutes (2408) than Giroud (1198), his record of a goal or assist every 78 minutes only just betters the Arsenal man’s one every 80 minutes.

Where Lacazette may have an edge however, comes through his ability to create chances, and play in a way that will suit fast attacking players such as Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

Lyon’s forward (1.7) trumped Giroud (0.6) considerably when it came to creating key passes for his teammates last season.

The stats accumulated by PlanetFootball from the 2016/17 season also acknowledged Lacazette’s willingness to move the ball, with the forward (28.2) attempting more than twice as many passes per 90 minutes than Olivier Giroud (12.7).

The Lyon striker also presents Wenger with a forward who is not afraid to carry the ball, with the stats showing Lacazette takes on his opponents 1.6 times a match in comparison to Giroud’s 0.1 rating in the same bracket.

But where Arsenal will of course suffer through this proposed swap in centre forwards is in the air; Giroud’s aerial duel success rate of 55.5% will be hard for any forward to beat, let alone Lacazette who sits on only 36.1% in comparison.

Ultimately this summer’s rumours surrounding Arsenal all point to a pacey attacker being acquired, with names such as Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar adding more petrol to the fire.

But if history is to go by it will be important for Arsene Wenger to keep his attacking options as broad as possible.

Last season’s record breaking champions Chelsea for instance had not only a target man like Diego Costa in their ranks, but also the option of a pacey forward like Michy Batshuayi to bring on if need be.

Whilst the signing of a Lacazette or an Mbappe will be by no means wasted cash, it will be just as important for Arsenal to keep Giroud if they are to improve on a poor league campaign next season.

By @adamhwhyte

For more visit: www.adamhwhyte.wordpress.com