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ALVISE CAGNAZZO: Olivier Giroud is quickly emerging as one of Paolo Maldini’s greatest ever signings

Paolo Maldini’s risk in Olivier Giroud paid off.

Over the course of his career as CEO of Milan, the Italy legend has frequently managed to buy exceptional players without overspending on the market, and luring Giroud was perhaps one of his most successful and creative transfer decisions ever.

Giroud has quickly become the most reliable player within AC Milan’s attack, filling in for summer signing Divock Origi, veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic and inside forward Ante Rebic, who have each taken up lengthy spells on the treatment table.

Striker Olivier Giroud joined AC Milan for approximately £900,000 from Chelsea in July 2021

The French forward could go down as one of Paolo Maldini's greatest ever signings at Milan

The French forward could go down as one of Paolo Maldini’s greatest ever signings at Milan

In fact, the last time the former Chelsea star did not take to the pitch with Milan was at Udinese-Milan on December 11 last year. Since then, Giroud has made 34 consecutive league and cup appearances. 

Having netted four goals and created one assist in seven Serie A matches so far this campaign, Giroud has started to play with an arrogance and swagger in attack, reminiscent of French superstars David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry, who formerly entertained Italy’s crowds at Juventus.

Without his goals, Stefano Pioli’s side would have six fewer points in the top flight this season, having carved out a respectable but underwhelming tally of 14 points from seven matches to date.

Giroud has scored four goals in just seven appearances for Stefano Pioli's side this campaign

Giroud has scored four goals in just seven appearances for Stefano Pioli’s side this campaign

Giroud has aged like a fine wine

The 36-year-old has no interest in slowing down during the latter stages of his career and seems to be improving with every year like a fine wine.

The striker has consistently contributed goals year after year and, whilst he may not be as prolific as Ciro Immobile at Lazio, Giroud has proven he can turn his experience and know-how into goals at a reliable rate.

Although his current deal is set to expire in six months, Maldini will not have to think twice before renewing the Frenchman’s contract for at least another two years.

A battling work-ethic has helped the Frenchman stay in impeccable condition at the age of 36

A battling work-ethic has helped the Frenchman stay in impeccable condition at the age of 36

With his work-ethic bordering on ‘workaholic’ tendencies, Giroud has kept himself in impeccable condition at the age of 36. The target man has already played 591 minutes with AC Milan this season, including another 144 with France on international duty.

With more goals to his name than both Juventus hitman Dusan Vlahovic and Inter returnee Romelu Lukaku, Giroud presented the perfect bargain at just shy of £900,000.

Shades of Italy 

Despite representing France at international level, the World Cup winner is also of Italian descent through his grandmothers.

During an interview with L’Equipe, Giroud revealed that he keenly cheered Italy on during the 1994 World Cup, seeing that France had not qualified.

The veteran admitted that he cried when Roberto Baggio missed the decisive penalty against Brazil whilst watching the final of the competition.

Giroud said that he keenly cheered on Italy at the 1994 World Cup as France did not qualify

Giroud said that he keenly cheered on Italy at the 1994 World Cup as France did not qualify 

Therefore, Milan has always held fond memories for Giroud, who used to travel around Italy as a child meeting his cousins and great uncles.

Aside from picking up the language almost instantly, Giroud’s bond with Italy has remained an intensely strong one since childhood and almost presented the ex-Arsenal and Chelsea star a second home during the twilight of his career.

Giroud is the perfect strike partner

No matter how blessed with superstar forwards such as Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, there always seems to be a spot in the France squad for Giroud.

His role on international duty is clear. Forget about scoring individual goals and focus on doing whatever it takes to help the team win.

The striker is almost viewed as the perfect strike part under France manager Didier Deschamps

The striker is almost viewed as the perfect strike part under France manager Didier Deschamps

With countless goalscorers amongst their ranks, Giroud offers a different package. His intelligence, tactical awareness and physicality helps create space for others, as he sacrifices his body against defenders for the good of the team.

During France’s triumphant 2018 World Cup success, Giroud scored zero goals. Yet, despite his lack of contributions to the scoresheet, Didier Deschamps recalled the target forward, fully aware that he was often the key that unlocked opponents’ defences.

As national teams chew over how to stop Mbappe and Benzema at the World Cup, they may be wise to focus a little more on AC Milan’s talented veteran in Qatar.

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