Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud admitted he found Maurizio Sarri’s decision to sign Gonzalo Higuain rather than give him a regular starting place “annoying”, but stressed he remains committed to the club.
Giroud made just seven Premier League starts among 27 top-flight appearances for the Blues in Sarri’s first campaign in charge at Stamford Bridge, scoring two goals as Chelsea finished third in the table.
He was utilised more often in the club’s charge to Europa League glory with 11 goals in 14 appearances, but he revealed the signing of Higuain in January left a sour taste.
Higuain arrived on loan as Sarri looked to a player he knew well from his time in charge of Napoli for firepower rather than giving Giroud more game time.
The Argentine netted five goals in 14 Premier League appearances, during which time Giroud spoke to Sarri about his reasons for overlooking him.
“It is true that at one point I went to see him [Sarri] when I did not understand his choices,” Giroud told reporters ahead of France’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Turkey and Andorra.
“He gave me explanations. What was annoying is in January, when he preferred to recruit an attacker who he knew very well, Higuain, it was not easy for me to reap any benefits.
“As usual, I tried to stay focused to prove that I could play. I tried to stay focused to prove that he was wrong about some of the choices.
“But when you bring in a player in January it’s hard to put him back on the bench and disown him.”
Giroud, 32, signed a one-year contract extension in May and, with Chelsea currently unable to sign new players due to a transfer ban, he remains optimistic about his chances of playing regularly in 2019-20.
Prior to his arrival he spent five-and-a-half years at Arsenal, and he expressed his desire to stay in English football for the foreseeable future while hinting that changes are afoot at Stamford Bridge, where Sarri’s future is the subject of speculation.
“I have at least another year in England and the chances are it will be more than a year,” said Giroud. “I do not see myself anywhere other than in Chelsea.
“I did not have a lot of playing time in the league, and it’s not something that pleased me, but I tried to be effective every time I played. I did not give up, despite my frustration.
“We’re going to start over for next year with a few changes, I’m happy and I cannot wait to get back.
“I won a title this year. It’s a great pride to continue at a club that wins titles and is expected to challenge for the Premier League.
“I am very happy to continue, whoever the coach is next year.”