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Olivier Giroud leaves Chelsea for Milan

Merci Giroud.

In 2018, on a chilly end-January evening, Chelsea completed the deadline day signing of Olivier Giroud from Arsenal, as a consequence of a "domino effect" which saw Michy Batshuayi moving from "The Blues" to Borussia Dortmund on loan until the end of the season and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from "The Yellow-Blacks" to North London.

That winter transfer market had been quite stressful over its course for the Chelsea fans, with lacklustre names being strongly linked with a possible move to the club. The attacking alternatives were the most appalling ones, with below-standard, old-school center-forwards such as: Andy Carroll, Ashley Barnes and Peter Crouch reportedly being in club's wish list.

Anyhow, we can't neglect the one more qualitative exception: Edin Dzeko. Chelsea worked closely to secure the services of the Bosnian striker, who boosted Premier League experience and a steady level of performances in the Italian league. Ultimately, the switch didn't materialise due to former Manchester City's striker demands about the contract length, so Chelsea's hierarchy turned the attention to their rivals of the same city, seeking their French target man's signature.

It is fair to say that Giroud's arrival was anticipated with a mixed reaction from the fans. Personally, I was glad with his signing, as were a number of fellow Blues, who despite the fact that the club missed out on Dzeko, found the Frenchman as the perfect remedy to Carrolls. However, a considerable number of people seemingly had a more negative perspective, considering Giroud as another "panic buy" and merely a short-term fix at his best.

They couldn't be more wrong. The new number 18, coincidentally signed for a quoted fee of £18m pounds, proved to be archetype of "the cult hero" among fans. Known for his physical attributes, hard-working nature on and off the ball, his exemplary link-up play and admirable personality on and off the pitch, Giroud created an effective connection with Eden Hazard in particular, which led to the club winning the FA Cup in 19th May 2018, although it came after the disappointment and sorrow of finishing 5th in the league.

But the 2018-19 season, Olivier's first full season with the club, marked a remarkably consistent individual campaign from the striker in the UEFA Europa League, in which he scored as many as 11 goals, including a hat-trick against Dynamo Kiev and the opener in the final against Arsenal in Baku. Not only was he the top scorer of the competition, but during the year he managed to successfully overcome the competition with Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain. This seems like a "bread and butter" mission in hindsight, but taking into consideration the expectations and the media fuss surrounding the other two names, this is a mini-achievement in itself.

Olivier Giroud's professionalism, unconditional devotion and exemplary attitude became more apparent in his full season under Frank Lampard. 2019-20 turned out to be a strange rollercoaster for him, as despite being unfairly the third choice striker for about half-a-season behind Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi in the pecking order and on the brink of a move to Inter Milan in January 2019, his commitment never took a blow. He became a first choice striker after "Project Restart", scoring decisive goals against Norwich City, Watford, Aston Villa and Manchester United in the FA Cup to name a few, which eventually helped the club finish in the Top 4.

In conclusion, I believe that watching Olivier Giroud play at the Bridge during a 3.5 years period represents an unanimous and indisputable pleasure among us Chelsea fans. The winner against Rennes, the fourmidable performance against Sevilla and the five-star bicycle kick against Atletico Madrid are enough to ensure every sceptical mind about his genuine inclination of aging like a fine wine. Thus, we wish our European Champion all the best in his new chapter of his career. Thank you Olivier.

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