Pitchside

Why Olivier Giroud will never be a top striker – but still deserves a new deal

Pitchside

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With reports that Olivier Giroud is to sign a new contract at Arsenal, Squawka look at how valuable the striker is to Arsene Wenger.

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Arsenal have signed four players so far this summer in Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina and Calum Chambers, and the club are still reportedly in the market for at least another defensive midfielder.

As well as adding to the squad, Arsene Wenger wants to ensure the players he already has at his disposal remain at the club, and Olivier Giroud has reportedly been offered a two-year extension with Arsenal. His current deal expires in 2016, and the proposed extension would tie him to Emirates Stadium until 2018.

[HOW WILL ARSENAL LINE-UP THIS SEASON?]

Giroud joined Arsenal from Montpellier in 2012, and he has scored 39 goals in 98 appearances for the Gunners to date. But has he done enough to merit a new contract?

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Olivier Giroud's 16 league goals for Arsenal last season

While few would argue Giroud is a world-class striker, the 27-year-old is very important to the current Arsenal side, both in terms of his goalscoring threat and his overall play. In his first season in the Premier League he scored 11 goals and registered three assists. During his second year, he improved in both aspects, with 16 goals and eight assists, and it's not unrealistic to expect him to further increase his performance levels next year.

Giroud was Arsenal's only real option up front last season - Nicklas Bendtner was out of favour, while Yaya Sanogo was inexperienced - and understandably looked exhausted at times. The arrival of Sanchez will be a huge boost to him: as well as offering a threat out wide, Sanchez can ease the burden on Giroud by playing up front instead of the France international, or alongside him as part of a front pair.

Sanchez will also benefit from Giroud's presence. The striker is at his best when players are looking to run beyond him, and when Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey were both injured last season, he only created seven chances in the league (out of 37 in total) from January to April. He doesn't have the pace or skill to fashion his own opportunities, and he was often isolated in their absence. Giroud acts as a pivot for his team-mates to play off, and with Sanchez in the team, as well as Walcott and Ramsey, his ability to bring others into play will be on full display.

Giroud also offers Arsenal a different option when their passing can't find a way through well-organised defences. He has the height and power to allow the Gunners to play a more direct style than they have in years gone by. Giroud won 138 headers last season, the fourth highest total of all Premier League strikers.

The one area where Giroud really should do better is arguably the most important for a striker: finishing.

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He scored fewer goals than the Premier League's best strikers per 90 minutes, which is to be expected. However, he also took the fewest shots and had the worst shot accuracy.

Giroud needs to be more clinical, and he revealed that crucial misses against Chelsea last season still haunted him before the World Cup. To his credit, though, he did say he is working hard with Arsene Wenger to improve. If Giroud can become a more ruthless finisher, he could be the ideal forward for Arsenal.

Even if Sanchez usurps Giroud as the club's first-choice forward, the Frenchman is still a very useful player to have in the squad, and offering him a new deal keeps him tied to Arsenal when otherwise the club would be in a very vulnerable position if he entered the final year of his contract.

Arsenal have been linked with the likes of Edinson Cavani and Mario Balotelli this summer, and while they might be more naturally gifted players, they are not necessarily better suited to the strengths of this Arsenal side.

Wenger's side is built on fluid passing and movement, and Giroud offers a reference point that allows the rest of the team to express themselves. He may suffer from comparisons to predecessors such as Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie, but he is a vital part of this current Arsenal side.

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