Ronald Koeman has explained how agonisingly close he was to signing Olivier Giroud from Arsenal last summer and how he feels the French forward would have saved his side from a disastrous start to this season’s campaign.
After Arsenal completed the signing of Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon over the summer, Olivier Giroud could see that few starting opportunities were going to present themselves in the coming season and the striker began to search for pastures new.
In the end, it was Premier League rivals Everton that presented the most intriguing option for Giroud and, at one stage, he arrived at Goodison Park to finalise a move to the side that was, at the time, managed by Ronald Koeman. However, at the final moment, the 31-year-old changed his mind and decided he wished to remain at Arsenal.
Discussing this season’s failures, Koeman explained how aware he was of his own impending sacking and how, in his own mind, Giroud’s last-minute decision cost him so dearly.
“Last Thursday, after our defeat to Lyon in the Europa League, I knew it was crisis time,” Koeman said speaking to Dutch football magazine VI. “I am not daft, I know how the football world operates.”
“I could figure out how things could go. I was sure I would be on the bench against Arsenal on Sunday. But another defeat against Arsenal and I could see that anything would happen. And if things did not improve in those last games, I had worked out what would happen.”
“Maybe there was a chance to coach against Chelsea in the EFL Cup and maybe I would be able to do Leicester City away and Watford just before the international break.”
Despite recently scoring a screamer in the Europa League, Giroud has been a bit part player for the Gunners this season and is yet to start a Premier League fixture. Speaking about the striker, Koeman explained how his late change of heart regarding a move to Goodison Park was a key factor in his eventual demise.
“I had Olivier Giroud in the building,” explained Koeman. “He would have fitted perfectly, but at the very last moment he decided that he’d rather live in London and stay at Arsenal.That was really hard to swallow. You tell me, where you can get a better striker?”
Lukaku was so important for us, not just because of his goals. He had a certain way of playing as a striker — strong. He could hold the ball, he always had an eye for the goal, he was fast. If things were not going well in a game, if we could not play the way we were used to, there was always the option to use the long ball towards him.
“All of a sudden [after Giroud’s decision], we were missing such a player. With Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, we had attackers who want the ball at their feet.”
“When you are struggling as a team with the build-up from the back, and we no longer had the option to kick it long, you know you have a problem.”