Arsene Wenger says he wants Olivier Giroud to stay until the end of the season and made clear he considers his compatriot an important squad member, not just a super sub.
The France striker consolidated his credentials as a game-changer off the bench by scoring his 17th goal as a substitute to salvage a point for Arsenal at Southampton on Saturday.
In the aftermath of his performance, the player underlined his concern at the lack of game time he’s getting in the Premier League and how he’s worried it might affect his chances of going to next summer’s World Cup.
Asked about Giroud’s comments and what he thinks of the player he signed from Montpellier, Wenger told his pre-West Ham press conference:
“He’s not a sub for me. He’s a regular player. I have plenty of good strikers and you cannot play all of them together.
“I speak to all my players but its very difficult to speak about what we speak about openly. You enough already.
“He’s a very important player and I have a big respect for him. I’m a big admirer of Olivier Giroud, if you look at his career since he came here look at how many French caps he’s had since being at Arsenal Football Club. He has not wasted his time.
“I can understand every frustration of every player. It’s part of the job when you go to a big club.”
Pressed further on the matter of the player’s frustration, he added: “Of course [I understand], but first of all, he played many games, much more than people speak about.
“He’s played more minutes since the start of the season than Lacazette, for example. That’s not always well known. On the other hand, at a big club you have many strikers so you cannot always guarantee that everyone will play.”
On Giroud’s interview with L’Equipe, in which he seemed to suggest he might look for a move in January after being pressured by France coach Didier Deschamps, Wenger hinted at things being lost in translation.
“I read that, but it’s not exactly what he said. That’s always the way you can interpret things. Personally, I want him to stay until the end of the season, then we’ll see.”