Olivier Giroud has today completed a permanent transfer to AC Milan.
The Frenchman’s move to Italy’s Serie A brings to an end his three-and-half-year stay at Stamford Bridge following a deadline day transfer from Arsenal in January 2018. On signing for the club, he said: ‘My ambition is to win some trophies. That’s why I am playing football. I am a competitor and I want to win again and again.’
He achieved that by lifting the FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League during his time as a Blue, scoring in the semi-final of the FA Cup, the final of the Europa League, and netting the 2020/21 Chelsea Goal of the Season during last season’s pathway to triumph in Porto. While at Chelsea, Giroud also claimed global glory on the international stage when France won the FIFA World Cup.
Giroud made the switch across the capital with a proven pedigree of scoring goals at the highest level, having spent five-and-a-half years at the Emirates. After making his debut under Antonio Conte away at Watford, the striker netted his maiden goal for the club in a 4-0 FA Cup win over Hull City. Cup exploits would go on to define his time as a Chelsea player.
It was not until April that he scored his first Premier League goals in blue, though a late brace on the South Coast proved particularly significant as we came from 2-0 down to beat Southampton. Against the same opponents a week later at Wembley, our number 18 opened the scoring with a brilliant individual goal, slaloming through the Saints defence to set us on the way to victory in the FA Cup semi-final.
On our return to the national stadium in May, a hard-working and effective performance from him helped us defeat Manchester United 1-0 and earned Giroud his fourth winners’ medal in the competition. A couple of weeks earlier, a fine header settled a tight league contest against Liverpool at the Bridge. He ended that first half-season with five goals to his name.
International duty called in the summer of 2018 and, while Giroud did not score for France at the World Cup finals in Russia, his influence was no less important. He featured in every game, starting all six from the second group game onwards, as Les Bleus were crowned world champions for the second time.
The forward’s involvement right to the end of the tournament delayed his return to pre-season training under new boss Maurizio Sarri, meaning his start to the season was naturally slow in terms of involvement. It was in Europe that Giroud excelled most in 2018/19.
His first goal of the season, a well-taken header, proved decisive away against BATE Borisov in the Europa League, and that was followed by a brace in a 4-0 win over PAOK at the Bridge. In December, the striker then rescued a point with a brilliant late free-kick as we drew 2-2 against MOL Vidi, with our finish as group winners already secured.
While goals were harder to come by domestically, Giroud continued to have a big influence on the continent. In the knockout round, he scored home and away against Malmo, including our winner in Sweden, before following that up with a perfect hat-trick away to Dynamo Kiev in the last 16 as we completed an 8-0 aggregate victory.
There was also a strike in a seven-goal thriller against Slavia Prague that sealed our semi-final spot, before the big striker made a decisive contribution when opening the scoring against his former club Arsenal in the Baku final. It was typical Giroud – a magnificent and improbable header from an awkward angle that flew into the net and broke the deadlock.
The Blues went on to beat the Gunners 4-1, with that header Giroud’s 11th goal of the season in the competition, making him the top goalscorer and a most deserving trophy winner. It was also his first European honour and the chance to add a second came three months later in Istanbul when we took on Liverpool in the Super Cup final.
Once again, Giroud broke the deadlock, this time with a calm finish from a clever Christian Pulisic assist, though Jurgen Klopp’s side fought back to draw 2-2 after extra-time before claiming a penalty shoot-out victory.
His subsequent involvement in the first half of that 2019/20 season under Frank Lampard was limited, with Tammy Abraham the preferred choice up front, but Giroud was heavily involved after the winter break.
He expertly found the net to open the scoring in a win against Tottenham in February 2020 and helped to knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup, before netting against Everton in our last game before the pandemic brought a long halt to football matches being played.
His contribution after the restart was immense, with six goals in nine league games, including one on the final day as we sealed a top-four finish, plus an FA Cup semi-final goal against Man United.
With new forward players signed for 2020/21, Giroud again had to contend with competition for places but again played his part, especially on the European stage once more. He was our third-top scorer in all competitions.
He netted a last-minute winner in a Champions League group game in Rennes in a run of eight goals in eight games, including all four in a 4-0 win over Sevilla.
In a last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid, the striker conjured up the most eye-catching goal of his time at Chelsea and a hugely important one too – a bicycle-kick to seal an away-leg win. His final goal for the Blues was voted by supporters as the best Chelsea goal of 20/21.
Though an unused substitute in the final, there is no doubting the 34-year-old was important in winning the Champions League.
Olivier ends his time in London SW6 with 119 appearances, 59 as a sub, and 39 goals to his name, as well as those three trophy wins. We thank him greatly for his service and wish him the very best in his future career.