Frank Lampard says Olivier Giroud remains an important part of his plans but suggested he may not put up resistance if the striker would like to leave in January.
Giroud has started only once this season for Chelsea, against Tottenham in the League Cup on 29 September, and said during the international break that his situation was “worrying”, stating he will make a decision about his future early in 2021.
His agent Michael Manuello said last week that Giroud may have to “experience other emotions” while the France manager, Didier Deschamps, has warned the status quo cannot persist if the striker wishes to be in contention for a place in his country’s European Championship squad next summer.
“I do have plans [for him] and Oli is an important member of our squad,” Lampard said. “Look at his Chelsea career. He will always want to play more. I know he will be important for me going forwards so I want Oli to stay because of the way he is playing. I have a good relationship with him and if he ever felt that way I will have a conversation with him. But I want him to stay here and am very open both ways. At the moment I want him to stay.”
It is never sensible to write off Giroud given his propensity to confound doubters. The 34-year-old almost left Chelsea last January but ended up scoring nine goals in the second half of the 2019-20 season, including a run of six in seven games after the Covid-19 shutdown. He signed a contract extension in May, committing him to the club this season, but, with Chelsea having invested heavily in their attack and Tammy Abraham in resurgent form, the potential for another extended run in the side looks slim.
Lampard added: “I saw his agent’s quotes, and I thought nothing of them in a bad way, because it’s normal. I know Oli very well. We’ve had conversations, he wants to play. When he doesn’t play, he’s an incredible support for the other players, he trains brilliantly no matter what, and we have really grown-up conversations like we did last January.
“So in January we will cross that bridge when it comes but my first thought always has to be the strength of the squad. I’ll always be honest with Oli, but I still think he’s got a big contribution for us.”
Giroud could be involved at Rennes on Tuesday. A win would all but guarantee qualification for the Champions League knockout stage, with progress rubber-stamped if they take the points and Krasnodar fail to defeat Sevilla. Given Chelsea must play 10 games before the turn of the year, the squad management benefits of going through with two matches to play in Group E are undeniable.
“I’ve just looked at the schedule through December and it’s brutal,” Lampard said. “First and foremost we have to prepare for this game to try to win it but of course if we were to make a step into the next round then it would be a chance to look at players who need minutes or players who need a rest.”
Kai Havertz and Thiago Silva are available again, the former having completed his self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19, but Lampard said this game comes too soon for the returning Christian Pulisic.