No decision has been made on the future of Olivier Giroud, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed on Friday.
The 34-year-old’s contract at Stamford Bridge runs out this summer, after three-and-a-half years at the club. With just four months left on his deal and the season entering its final stretch, there is no doubt that Giroud will be considering his next steps.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Southampton, Tuchel spoke the media about the Frenchman’s future, and how he has found working with him so far.
Tuchel said, “No decisions [have been] made, because it’s too soon to make this decision, too soon in the season. I don’t have enough time to make these decisions, because I just started three weeks ago, and we need more time to get to know the group better, and everybody deserves more time to show the value for the group.”
Giroud has played half the games under Tuchel so far, netting his first goal since December when he opened the scoring against Newcastle on Monday. The Frenchman now has 10 goals for the season, only behind Tammy Abraham and level with Timo Werner in the Chelsea squad.
Tuchel was full of praise for Giroud, explaining, “I’m super happy that he’s here. He’s one of the top strikers in the box, he’s physically strong, he has an incredible first touch when he takes balls directly on the volley. He’s very strong in headers- he had an amazing game against Newcastle. He is very positive in training, this is very impressive.”
The manager added, “He plays a key role in the squad where a lot of young offensive players play. He is a key figure, maybe not because he plays every three days, but the way he behaves and with his experience on a daily basis. It’s all very clear, and from then on we go, and the decisions arrive, we will make it, but like I said, it’s too soon.”
Giroud joined Chelsea in 2018 from London rivals Arsenal, instantly picking up silverware with his fourth FA Cup. The 34-year-old has scored 38 goals in over a century of appearances for the Blues, but with his contract expiring at the end of the season, he may be looking to relocate for the twilight of his illustrious career.
When Chelsea meet Southampton at St. Mary’s on Saturday, there will be a friendly reunion in the dugouts.
Tuchel is set to battle with Ralph Hasenhüttl once again, with the pair having faced each other numerous times in Germany. Both managers are looking forward to the meeting, with the former speaking highly of his Austrian rival.
He said, “It’s impressive to see Ralph: he had a very good season with Ingolstadt, then a very successful season with [RB] Leipzig, and now a big impact with his aggressive style of playing at Southampton. This is the challenge that we have to face tomorrow.”
Bundesliga experience is not the only thing Tuchel and Hasenhüttl have in common, as the pair also both learnt from the same German manager.
Ralf Rangnick was a key influence for both men, managing Tuchel at fourth-tier side SSV Ulm, while he worked with Hasenhüttl at RB Leipzig. Incidentally, Rangnick was also considered for the Chelsea job after Frank Lampard was sacked, but turned it down due to not wanting to accept an interim role.
Speaking about Rangnick, Tuchel said, “I was a player with Ralf Rangnick, I played in the third and second division and learned from Ralf it’s not necessary to follow the striker to the toilet. He made a third division team stronger than we actually were with brand new tactics, with the back four, not man-marking but defending in the space.”
He went on to say, “Of course, that was a game changer for me to watch football games after my experience with Ralf, it was different because I had a totally different view from what was going on. There are many coaches influenced by this kind of philosophy, but in the end, I truly believe that everybody needs to find their own style.”
Chelsea can move within a point of second if they win at Southampton, in what would be their six consecutive victories under Tuchel. The Blues are back in the top four after beating Newcastle earlier this week, and will be looking to solidify their spot in the Champions League spots this weekend.
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