After recent reports surfaced casting doubt on Andy Carroll’s immediate future at Liverpool, and Kenny Dalglish’s plans to loan the lanky striker out next season, it seems this week the Reds manager has himself been on the look-out for a ready-made replacement striker.
Apparently Dalglish, accompanied by his assistant, travelled to France last week to watch Montpellier beat Toulouse at the Stade de la Mosson with a single goal. Despite previous links to several players on show in the match between the two Ligue 1 sides, it is believed that Dalglish’s intention was to cast a personal eye over the highly coveted and in-form, Olivier Giroud.
Liverpool Football Club are currently being linked to virtually every name under the sun, but is there any more credence to this particular rumour and, is Giroud the answer to Liverpool’s well documented problems in front of goal?
The French international has burst onto the scene this season scoring 20 goals in 32 games for his club, a number which could have been added to thanks to some spectacularly executed scissor kicks; a skill that Giroud has become particularly renowned for. Obviously such statistics could not be overlooked by France manager Laurent Blanc.
Giroud was plucked from relative obscurity before gaining a move to Ligue 1, and just like a fine French wine, he seems to be improving with time. His status has risen considerably as a result of an exceptional season, and one that has seen the 25 year old gain his first caps for his country; somewhat of a late developer.
In his first start for France against European giants Germany, the striker scored his first goal for his country thus capping off an outstanding year for the Frenchman. Not only have Giroud’s performances impressed his national coach, they have also attracted the attention of a host of top club sides in the UK and around Europe. Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Aston Villa, Newcastle and now, if the Daily Mail’s reports are to be believed, Liverpool have all shown interest in the former Tours player.
Despite this extraordinary run of good form the staggering £50 million valuation which, according to the Guardian, was placed on Giroud by the Montpellier owner Louis Nicollin late last year, looks to be somewhat over-inflated. Nicollin is either trying to ward off any potential buyers or is looking to make the most out of his prized asset.
I suspect there are a few, if any, clubs who would consider or could even afford such a hefty price for a player who has essentially had only a single season of success.
This in itself is a gamble, because as history shows, players can be ‘one hit wonders’; often coming to a club in a blaze of publicity and with so much promise but end up falling by the wayside or at the very least, failing to live up to expectation; clubs and fans alike (does the name Carroll ring any bells?).
Let’s not forget the last time a Premier League team paid the sum of £50 million for a striker; Fernando Torres has only just started to display the sort of form that persuaded Abramovich to open his cheque book and take him to Chelsea last January. I somehow doubt that Liverpool fans and the owners have that kind of patience or time on their hands.
Clearly Dalglish needs another striker, and the Liverpool manager has made no secret of his summer wish list; a right-sided midfielder, a defender and indeed a forward to add to his squad.
The dissapointingly inconsistent £35 million signing Andy Carroll and in the inability of the other potential striking partners for Suarez, including the ageing Craig Bellamy, to step forward and partner the brilliant (but annoyingly temperamental) Uruguayan, has forced Dalglish to take matters into his own hands by doing some scouting of his own. Would Olivier Giroud be the right man to compliment Luis?
Ideally a strike partnership would consist of two players whose styles of play complemented each others. Players of a similar mould tend to occupy the same areas and make similar runs, a criticism often aimed at the previous combination of Drogba and Anelka at Chelsea, until Anelka’s departure to pastures new.
Many managers favour playing a tall and strong target man to win aerial battles, flick balls on and hold up play, alongside a fast tricky opportunist with an eye for goal who would take advantage of those flick-ons and through balls. Obviously Suarez falls into the bracket of the latter, and at 6ft 2, you would have to say that Giroud could certainly fall into the category of the former.
Many at Montpellier believe their rise to prominence this season owes much to the sparkling form of Moroccan midfielder Younes Belhanda, but as is often the case it is the player who scores the goals, Giroud, who gets most of the headlines.
As well as his obvious goal-scoring credentials, Giroud is also adept at holding up play and creating chances for others as evidenced by the fact he has eight assists to his name this season.
In a position where Carroll has failed to impress, Dalglish would hope if he were to sign Giroud, that the Frenchman would be able to fit into this role with Liverpool. On paper it would seem that Giroud should be a fitting replacement for the under-fire Geordie.
He certainly plays the role of a resilient target man for his club to great effect; strong in the air with great hold up play, Giroud is also surprisingly energetic and mobile considering his obvious physical stature. He appears to have all the graft and presence of a Mario Gomez, and indeed it is this similarity in styles between the two that has caused Bayern to cool their interest in the player. Yet Giroud also possess the finesse and finishing ability of an in-form Didier Drogba; check out this video that showcases the best of the Frenchman.
In spite of the £50 million price tag on his head, it is believed that there is a £13.5 million release clause in his contract effectively making his valuation void. However, it is understood that if Montpellier were to qualify for the Champions League, this clause will be waived.
Montpellier do look set to win the French totle and therefore can look forward to Champions League football next year. Regardless of Liverpool’s obvious ability financially to bring Giroud to the club, will the draw of Champions League football be too great or will the lure of the Premier League help Olivier settle for Europa League football with Liverpool next season.
Arsenal are also believed to be in the running for the player’s signature, perhaps the fact they can offer both might be a far greater attraction to the French international. It might be worth Dalglish keeping his options open and I’m sure he will.
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