Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud continues to attract attention from Ligue 1 this summer and reportedly remains a target for Marseille, who are said to be hoping to bring the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner back to France this summer.
Marseille have been repeatedly linked with the frontman in recent months, and Le 10 Sport (h/t Sport Witness) reported they could come back in for the Blues forward before the Ligue 1 transfer window shuts on August 31.
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri already agreed to send Michy Batshuayi on loan to Valencia this summer, leaving only Giroud and Tammy Abraham as back-up to record signing Alvaro Morata.
Charlie Skillen of MailOnline questioned the decision to allow Batshuayi to leave the club on loan for a second season in succession, while hailing Giroud as a good forward, albeit one perhaps not fitting Sarri's style of play:
The Italian tactician succeeded with a mobile attack in his time at Napoli and fielded 5'7" Dries Mertens as his central attacking option for his final two seasons at the Stadio San Paolo. It was Sarri's predecessor, Antonio Conte, who preferred to have a tall, strong striker.
Marseille are also being linked with Mario Balotelli, 28, whom Nice manager Patrick Vieira has said "wants to leave the club," per Sky Sports.
According to reports, Marseille will keep Giroud as a back-up option as they'd prefer one of their younger targets, which is understandable given the Frenchman will turn 32 in September.
Morata endured injury troubles last season and finished the campaign with only 15 goals in 48 appearances. As things stand, it looks to be a battle between him and Giroud for the starting place in Sarri's attack, although author Mark Worrall has predicted another name will enter the race:
Mark Worrall @gate17marco
Morata or Giroud/Giroud or Morata? I just wonder how long it will be before Sarri experiments and deploys Hazard as an out-and-out striker (forget Conte's false 9, I'm talking as a proper centre crash)? Flanked by any two of Callum Hudson Odoi, Willian or Pedro. I see goals! ⚽️ https://t.co/iyJ5QXTZye
Giroud could be pushed even further from the XI if Eden Hazard were to be used as a striker by his new boss, having experimented there at times under Conte last season.
Although he's not long back from his post-World Cup holidays, the season hasn't got off to the brightest of starts under Sarri for Giroud, who was an unused substitute in Saturday's 3-0 hammering of Huddersfield Town.
The former Arsenal attacker had a worse goals-per-game ratio than Morata—12 goals in 44 appearances—but he played 500 minutes fewer. In fact, Giroud averaged one goal every 180 minutes in all competitions, while Morata's ratio was one goal every 184 minutes.
Giroud left Montpellier for the Gunners in 2012 after finishing that season as the top scorer in Ligue 1, and he would be sure to have a better chance of starting at the Stade Velodrome ahead of Valere Germain or Kostas Mitroglou.
That being said, convincing the Blues to part ways with such a senior player when they can no longer bring in a replacement could make Marseille's back-up plan just as difficult to pull off as their other transfer targets.