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Giroud back on market? Why Chelsea must extend his new contract

COMMENT: So Frank Lampard. Do you think he really believes that? Y'know the one about "experience being overestimated"...?

"Sometimes experience is overestimated, as I see it," declared Lampard. "It's good to have experience in the squad, but that does not always mean that it is the answer to things or it gives success."

The Chelsea manager made the claim just this week - on the eve of victory over Norwich City. A victory earned by one 33 year-old Olivier Giroud. The centre-forward. The World Cup winning centre-forward. A player of 514 games. Who has seen it all, done it all and has the t-shirt. It was Giroud who used all that know-how gained to sink his marker and reach Christian Pulisic's superb cross to head home the only goal of the game. A goal which earned Lampard's Chelsea three critical points just as it had been confirmed Manchester City would be clear to play in next season's Champions League. That hoped for top five was no more. Chelsea need to keep winning to be sure of finishing inside the qualifying places. And when it was needed, it was the experience of Giroud which counted.

Of course, this isn't an either/or situation. And perhaps Lampard wasn't so much dismissing the senators inside his dressing room, but giving his young players a rev-up for the final games of this elongated season.

But whatever the motive, Chelsea's manager must be grateful he can count on Giroud. Just as he has Willian during this Premier League restart. Christian Pulisic aside, Chelsea's two outstanding performers of this mini comp have been two of their oldest. And two who know they could be pulling on another shirt next year.

Willian's situation remains the same. As it stands, the Brazilian will depart at the end of this season. And Giroud, despite committing to a new 12 month deal in May, could do the same.

Indeed, the way he handled Lampard refusing to allow him to leave in January has only made him more coveted.

Luca Antonini, an intermediary who tried to take Giroud to Antonio Conte's Inter Milan during the winter transfer window, explained: “Giroud is an exemplary, incredible professional and he has not said anything bad about the club or his manager.

“He is a player with lots of professionalism and (Antonio) Conte knows that bringing in a player of his experience can be an added value in an already very important team."

Lazio's long time sporting director Igli Tare, a decent centre-forward himself back in the day, has also declared: “It would've been a great signing for us, I was able to meet him and recognise he is a great professional with strong motivation.

“I knew in my heart that it could be a possibility for the summer, but also that he would certainly have considered a contract renewal with Chelsea."

Lampard managed to convince Giroud about that "contract renewal", but both men know the dance will start again well before Christmas next season - particularly with both Inter and Lazio willing to offer longer than the one-year rolling deal Chelsea have insisted upon.

Of course the answer for management would be to approach Giroud and suggest a further 12 months. The value of the Frenchman, both on and off the pitch, has been crystallised during this restart. The consistency. The reliability. The leadership. It's all come through the Frenchman. All qualities that will help Timo Werner bed down as quickly as possible. And also assist Tammy Abraham through his current slump.

Indeed, as much as Giroud is admired across Europe, the same is felt inside the dressing room. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, after the Norwich victory, declaring "Oli's really important for us" and he's "a great team player".

The manager echoing: "He has never given me a problem, he has always trained brilliantly. His professionalism was always good."

A vital element on the pitch. The right influence off it. Why would Chelsea, as they put together a new team under this manager, risk losing a player who can set the right example for others to follow? Better yet, where would Chelsea and Lampard be today if Giroud had forced through a move away back in January?

Chelsea need to act. There's a reason why Inter, Lazio, Tottenham and half of Ligue 1 are in contact with Giroud's minders trying to convince him to demand a transfer this summer.

The value and experience of this 33 year-old cannot be "overestimated". A fresh 12-month extension would not only be just reward for Giroud's form, but vital for this new team Lampard is putting together.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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