Arsenal fans, the wait is over!
Having raised our expectations with the unusually early capture of German striker Lukas Podolski from FC Koln, the club have now gone one better by completing the signing of Ligue 1's top marksman last season, the Montpellier big-man, Olivier Giroud.
While Giroud has been rumored to be on Arsenal's radar for quite some time now, the story has recently gathered tremendous momentum, with everyone—barring Arsenal, of course—claiming that the deal was done.
But now that it's official, today's announcement will be greeted with a welcome cheer in North London.
As part of the official announcement on arsenal.com, Arsene Wenger said:
We are delighted to have secured the signing of Olivier Giroud. He has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air, with a great work ethic. We are excited about Olivier joining us and he will add an additional dimension to our attacking options next season.He has proved that he is capable of performing at the top level with club and country, and we saw what a big influence he was in Montpellier’s championship-winning side last season. We all look forward to Olivier joining us and seeing him play in an Arsenal shirt.
Here are some images of Giroud in the red, white and blue of France, sorry, Arsenal. I can't exactly spot why, but something suggests he's on the lookout for a new boot deal. Any guesses?
The 6'3" striker made 86 appearances for Montpellier, scoring 39 goals and providing 12 assists. He also has nine caps for Les Bleus, helping himself to a goal and three assists.
An undoubted "big man" thanks to his significant frame, Giroud has fantastic feet. While he's predominantly left-footed, he packs a mean punch with his right foot as well. Add to that his tremendous aerial ability, and we have on our hands a fantastic all-round striker, as this video will confirm.
The newest Gunner had the following to say on joining Arsenal:
I am delighted to be here at Arsenal and to be part of one of the great teams in English football. It's a huge satisfaction to join this great club and it’s been a dream since I was young to play in the Premier League. I was attracted by the philosophy of football and Arsène Wenger’s 'touch' at this club. I have always admired Arsenal with its great history and reputation, and I now hope to achieve great things here. I’m very proud to be a Gunner and I will give my best for all the Arsenal fans.
There are varying rumors on what his signing means for the future of Robin van Persie. Many feel that RVP will put pen to paper at Arsenal, having been placated by "big" signings, Giroud being one.
I'm not so confident. I fear Arsenal may take the money and let him leave, using financial constraints as their excuse. I feel there's more than a fair chance that he'll be made to stay and run down his contract.
Van Persie's contribution—or the lack thereof— to Holland's cause at Euro 2012 has done nothing to raise his market price, and that only makes things more complicated from Arsenal's perspective.
What does seem likely, though, is that there's no Arsenal future for the incumbent big men, Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner. While the big Dane has certainly raised his profile—and that of Paddy Power—at Euro 2012, it may be a struggle to find a willing buyer for the Moroccan.
I guess we can worry about that another day.
For the moment, bienvenue, Olivier. And keep at it, Arsene and Ivan.