Chelsea ends striker hunt with Giroud capture

Arsenal have allowed France striker Olivier Giroud to move to London rivals Chelsea in a deal reportedly worth £18million.

Olivier Giroud will be moving to Chelsea.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Chelsea have announced the signing of striker Olivier Giroud from Premier League rivals Arsenal for a reported £18million, ending the club's long hunt for a new centre-forward.

Antonio Conte's desire to add another attacking option to his squad led to Chelsea being linked with a host of unlikely players, including Andy Carroll, Ashley Barnes and Peter Crouch, while an attempted deal for Roma's Edin Dzeko failed.

But with Giroud struggling for game-time at Arsenal and with the World Cup approaching, the Premier League champions swooped to secure the 31-year-old on an 18-month contract.

Giroud, who hit 73 Premier League goals at Arsenal in his five and a half years at the club following a 2012 move from Montpellier, has started one league game this season.

The France international was increasingly marginalised at Emirates Stadium following the club-record arrival of his compatriot Alexandre Lacazette, who joined from Lyon, and his chances of making the starting XI receded further with Wednesday's signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund.

Giroud arrives at Stamford Bridge hot on the heels of Michy Batshuayi's loan departure to Borussia Dortmund, the two players part of a transfer triangle kicked off by Arsenal's acquisition of Aubameyang.

"Chelsea is one of the biggest teams in the Premier League," the former Montpellier striker told his new club's official website.

"They have won maybe the most trophies in the last six or seven years. It's a massive club and I am proud to sign for Chelsea, and I'm looking forward to playing."

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: "Olivier is a proven talent at the top level and we are very pleased to call him a Chelsea player.

"He has scored goals regularly throughout his career and is well accustomed to English football and the Premier League. We are sure he will be a fantastic signing."

Giroud could make his Chelsea debut away at Watford next Monday.

During his time at Arsenal, the striker – who won three FA Cups - endeared himself to the Gunners faithful and Arsene Wenger was full of praise for the departing star after his exit was confirmed.

"Oli 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," said the Arsenal boss.

"We signed him from Montpellier and he became a strong, regular international player for France, and we have gone together through good and bad. But always I believe that his behaviour has been top, top class.

"He always had his heart 100 per cent in the team and he was committed."

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