Giroud knuckles down in bid to win back place

French international striker Olivier Giroud and compatriot Alexandre Lacazette will be directly competing with one another for a starting spot as Arsenal's main man up front.
French international striker Olivier Giroud and compatriot Alexandre Lacazette will be directly competing with one another for a starting spot as Arsenal's main man up front.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud wants to stay at the club and fight for his place despite the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette, manager Arsene Wenger has said.

Giroud struggled for opportunities at Arsenal last season, starting 11 league games after losing his spot to Chile forward Alexis Sanchez in the starting line-up.

The France international could be further bumped down the pecking order by compatriot Lacazette, who arrived at the north London club from Lyon for a reported to £46.5 million (S$82 million).

"Giroud fancies the competition," Wenger told reporters. "As a manager, you have him on your back, wanting to play.

"He fights hard, you know. I like the way he responds to what's happening. He is focused and determined and showed that on the (pre-season) tour."

Arsenal face Portuguese champions Benfica on Saturday and Spanish LaLiga side Sevilla a day later in the Emirates Cup at home.

Giroud has been linked with moves to Marseille, Everton and West Ham.

Lyon had also hoped to sign the 30-year-old as part of the deal involving Lacazette. But Wenger wants to hold on to a player that netted 18 goals for Arsenal in all competitions last season.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas told French newspaper Le Progres: "I wanted to sign him. But Wenger would not sell him."

One Arsenal forward who looks certain to leave is Lucas Perez, who started nine games for the club in all competitions last term. The Spaniard is reportedly unhappy that Arsenal handed Lacazette his No. 9 shirt while he got No. 28.

The 28-year-old told Spanish newspaper La Voz De Galicia: "They are not being fair with me. The act of taking away my number without telling me anything to give to a team-mate, that was the last straw for me.

"I can't go on this way. And I can't take it anymore."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2017, with the headline 'Giroud knuckles down in bid to win back place'. Print Edition | Subscribe