BREMEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 29: Olivier Giroud of France celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the International friendly match between Germany and France at Weser Stadium on February 29, 2012 in Bremen, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
According to French radio station Radio Monte Carlo (RMC), Arsenal have opened negotiations with Montpellier over striker Olivier Giroud. Giroud, 25, was key to Montpellier's surprising league title, as he scored 21 times in 36 games, as well as contributing 9 assists. He also scored 4 goals in 7 cup games, bringing his total to 25 goals in 43 games, finishing as joint top-scorer in Ligue Un.
Here's the good stuff from RMC's website:
Selon nos informations, Arsenal va entamer des discussions avec Olivier Giroud dans les prochaines heures...Le champion de France ne se fait plus aucune illusion sur le départ d'Olivier Giroud en cas d'offre intéressante pour lui. Le club de Louis Nicollin préférerait le transférer à Arsenal ou Chelsea pour récupérer Marouane Chamakh ou Romelu Lukaku, en prêt, dans la transaction.
L'attaquant plait beaucoup à Arsène Wenger. C'est sa priorité sur le plan de l'attaque, que ce soit avec ou sans le départ de Robin van Persie.
Unless you speak French, that doesn't tell you much, so here it is via Google translate:
Reportedly, Arsenal will start discussions with Olivier Giroud in the next few hours ... The champions of France are no longer any illusions about the departure of Olivier Giroud in an attractive offer for him. Club Louis Nicollin prefer the transfer to Arsenal or Chelsea to recover Lukaku or Marouane Chamakh, on loan in the transaction. ... The striker really like to Arsene Wenger. It is his priority in terms of attack, either with or without the departure of Robin van Persie.
There's obviously some weirdness in the translation there, but the key points are that Montpellier realise they're going to lose Giroud, and would prefer he would go to Arsenal or Chelsea so that they can receive either Romelu Lukaku or Marouane Chamakh on loan in return. So far, Chelsea haven't been linked with Giroud, and the quickness that Arsenal are moving may ensure that they get the player, who is currently at the European Championships with best friend Laurent Koscielny. Finally, it would seem that Giroud's release clause is €12m, or about 8.5 million of your English pounds sterling.
The article also states that signing an attacker is a priority for Arsene Wenger, no matter what happens with Robin van Persie. That makes sense; Arsenal were too reliant on van Persie for goals last year, and although Lukas Podolski has been signed, indications are that he could start wide left next season while filling in the middle. Giroud would be an obvious upgrade on Nicklas Bendtner, Chamakh and the mythical Park Ju-Young, and, like Chamakh, would offer a plan B with his height. Unlike Chamakh, Giroud is a much better finisher, and has a much better scoring record than the Moroccan. Giroud could spell Robin van Persie or allow the Dutchman to play a deeper role off of Giroud, something that may work against weaker teams where three midfielders is not necessary because of the depth of the opposition.
However, just because RMC are reporting negotiations are set to begin does not mean the transfer is going to happen. Similar media outlets reported the Yann M'Vila transfer as being a "done" deal, and with the player at the European Championships, this may drag out for a while. It has a good possibility of being done, given that Arsenal need to sign a striker irrespective of what Robin van Persie does. Giroud's scoring record and his ability to link up well with teammates, as well as his offering of somewhat of a "Plan B" plus his relative inexpensive price gives this transfer a good chance of happening, but there may yet be quite a while to run on it. If the reports are true, it's a positive statement of intent for Arsenal, and is something to look out for in the coming weeks.