Wenger: Giroud contribution has been huge

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Arsene Wenger says Olivier Giroud’s contribution to Arsenal has been tremendous during his five years at the club.

The France international joined for £12 million from Montpellier in 2012 and has since made 232 appearances. His next looks likely to come against Cologne as the Gunners make their Europa League bow on Thursday night.

In his pre-game press conference, the boss was full of praise for Giroud, seated next to him, noting, “I don’t want him to feel uneasy, but I’ve said many times that his contribution has been huge.

“He has a great evolution here. Overall, the contribution to the club has been tremendous and he has shown a very loyal spirit and has a high respect from everyone inside the club and from our fans.”

The France international opted to stay at the Emirates despite additional competition for places up front and now stands just one goal shy of a century in Gunners colours. It’s a milestone he’s eager to achieve.

“Obviously for a striker it’s important to score, the statistic is very important. I keep it in a part of my mind but the most important for me is to win. After, the goals will come if we play well and play our game.

“We are very focused on this Europa League. We want to go and win it. We are ambitious. I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow.

He added: “It’s a privilege for me to play for Arsenal and to score almost 100 goals. I hope it’s going to happen as quickly as it can.”

The striker, who was heavily linked with the likes of Everton, West Ham, Marseille, Lyon and Borussia Dortmund, also touched on how close he came to leaving earlier in the summer.

“It was a private decision. It’s true that I was close to leaving the club because I said I wanted to play. After a big reflection, everybody [came] around me like my family and my close friends in a supportive way, and I wanted to stay at The Arsenal.

“I thought the story was not over and finished at Arsenal. The club bring me a lot and I think I give it back. I still want to improve and improve again and again and win some more trophies with the club.

“As I said to the boss, ‘our story is not finished.’ Everybody was pleased with that.”

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