Olivier Giroud has warned he is not prepared to settle for a back-up role at Chelsea and the 32-year-old striker insists his fitness records remain among the best at the club.
Giroud has mostly had to make do with second striker status – first to Alvaro Morata and then to Gonzalo Higuain – after signing for the club in an £18m transfer from Arsenal in January 2018.
The Frenchman’s hat-trick against Dynamo Kiev in Chelsea’s 5-0 Europa League victory on Thursday evening took his tally in the competition to nine for the season.
Frenchman Olivier Giroud wants the chance to become Chelsea’s first-choice striker
He has scored only one Premier League goal but started just six top-flight games during this campaign. Manager Maurizio Sarri will likely restore Higuain to the line-up when Chelsea travel to Everton this weekend.
Giroud said: ‘I’m 32 but I’m still young. I feel very well physically. When I do the tests on the treadmill I have to say that I have one of the best tests (at the club). I have the motivation to carry on.
‘Some of the boys asked me why I didn’t retire after the World Cup with the national team, but I’m still hungry and I know how much I will miss football after my career. I want more and more. I think I have a few nice years in front of me.’
Giroud’s future at Chelsea remains uncertain as the club are still to trigger an option to extend his contract by one year as his current deal expires at the end of the season. Giroud, however, may yet push for a move away as he searches for first-team opportunities.
As Chelsea currently face a two-window FIFA transfer ban, subject to a potential appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the club can ill afford to lose the Frenchman and may even be forced to hand Giroud a longer-term contract to ensure he stays at the club.
Their need is further enhanced as it remains unclear as to whether the club would be allowed, in the event of a transfer ban, to make Gonzalo Higuain’s loan move into a permanent deal this summer.
Chelsea are waiting to discover if they are able to make Gonzalo Higuain’s loan permanent
Giroud is clear he wants regular football. Asked if he would accept back-up status going forwards, the striker said: ‘No. No chance. I’m a competitor. I have been through a lot of tough moments in my career. I just want to enjoy playing my football after winning the World Cup last summer. I want to take maximum pleasure on the pitch.
‘To call us old boys is a bit harsh – we are just over 30-years-old. I still feel as fresh as when I was in my twenties. I want to play every single game and to be happy on the pitch. But I am not picking the team, the manager makes some choices. I play in the Europa League and I am happy to help the team to go through the stages step by step. The target is clearly to win it.’
Asked if he sees his future in England, Giroud added: ‘For me the Premier League is great, it is my favourite league. Now we don’t know about the future – who can say? We’ll see.’