Chelsea have reportedly agreed an initial £18 million fee with Arsenal for Olivier Giroud, a deal that will allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to join the Gunners as the Blues send Michy Batshuayi to Borussia Dortmund on loan as his replacement.
According to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, discussions between Arsenal and Chelsea for the France international had broken down as the two clubs could not agree a fee, but Gunners boss Arsene Wenger played a key role in the two clubs reconciling because of his desire to help Giroud complete his move.
The three moves all appear to be dependent on one another, so with Giroud set to join Chelsea they can afford to part with Batshuayi, and with the Belgian arriving at Dortmund they're able to let Aubameyang go. The Gabon striker is set for a medical at Arsenal on Wednesday morning.
Giroud was handed a cameo off the bench in Tuesday's 3-1 defeat at Swansea City, and he seemingly bade farewell to the travelling Arsenal supporters, per Football.London's Charles Watts:
Wenger praised the striker after the match and revealed why he brought him on, per Arsenal's official website:
"It's a tribute to Olivier, yes. He is a guy who gave great service to the club, he never let us down on the commitment front and he saved us many times. I have absolutely no doubt that when I ask him if he is ready to commit and he says yes, I have no problem with that."
He would not be drawn on the specifics of Giroud's departure or Aubameyang's arrival—he reiterated it will all be decided on Wednesday with nothing yet finalised—and when asked about his confidence of the moves going through, he replied:
"The confidence doesn't help too much in that. Every detail can make deals, and the deals nowadays are so complicated that so long as you have not finished it, you cannot be too confident—it doesn't help too much."
Wenger's reluctance to talk about the transfers is understandable, but it seems likely the moves will all take place. The manager appeared to confirm Aubameyang's arrival after the Swansea match before saying it was not yet over the line, per Twitter user MG:
Aubameyang's arrival can provide a timely boost for the remainder of the season, but allowing Giroud to join the Blues is a questionable decision from Arsenal's point of view, as Sport Witness noted:
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
Right now it’s needs-must but Arsenal selling Giroud to Chelsea seems wrong. Giving a direct rival the exact kind of player they want, and depriving themselves of Plan B, Arsenal have nobody similar. Surely a determined club signs Auba and keeps Giroud, until summer at least.
Per the Telegraph's Matt Law, the striker's departure will also see yet another source of goals leave the team:
Wenger is evidently hoping Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can replace them.
The trio are capable of doing so provided the manager can get the best out of them, but strengthening their rivals with the outgoing players seems an unwise move.