Giroud’s move to Chelsea will allow transfer chain to be completed
Aubameyang will be allowed leave Borussia Dortmund with Batshuayi joining on loan
Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud on the bench for his side’s game against Swansea City. The French striker is set join Chelsea in a €20 million deal. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters
Olivier Giroud is primed to join Chelsea from Arsenal for £17.5 million (€20 million) on deadline day, a move that will allow the completion of a chain of transfers that takes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the Emirates stadium and Michy Batshuayi to Borussia Dortmund.
Agreement was reached in principle between the two London clubs after a day of exhaustive talks, with Arsenal anxious to conclude their own club record £55.5m move for Aubameyang. Even so, Giroud had still been included in Arsène Wenger’s 19-man match-day squad for Tuesday’s Premier League game at Swansea, which the France international began on the bench.
The 31-year-old’s priority has long been to enjoy greater playing opportunity before the World Cup finals having started a solitary top-flight game this season following the £52.7 million arrival of his compatriot Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon last summer.
Fight for minutes
Giroud will back himself to make his mark at his new club in what promises to be a fight for minutes with Álvaro Morata, with Chelsea effectively scrapping their established policy of not signing players in their 30s on long-term deals. The French man is understood to have verbally agreed personal terms on the switch and will undergo a medical on Wednesday.
Arsenal, who have already taken Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Manchester United this month in exchange for Alexis Sánchez, had not been inclined to sell Giroud to a direct rival for a top-four Premier League finish. But their determination to set in train the deal for Aubameyang has forced them into the compromise.
They have also had to take a hit on the fee, having originally wanted closer to £30 million. Talks had appeared to hit an impasse on Monday evening but resumed on Tuesday in a bid to smooth the wheels of the various deals. The £17.5 million fee for the French man is inclusive of add-ons.
Arsenal’s move for Aubameyang had gathered pace earlier in the day when Dortmund granted the forward permission to fly to England in order to undergo a medical and conclude the finer details of a club record deal at London Colney. The transfer has been driven by Arsenal’s new head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat, who previously worked for Dortmund. He had been instrumental in taking Aubameyang to the Bundesliga from Saint-Étienne and, with the player having made clear he was keen on the move, discussions had progressed over the last fortnight.
Yet they could only be concluded successfully once Dortmund had secured their own replacement and, having initially considered Giroud, they had opted instead to pursue Batshuayi.
Once Chelsea had opened talks over Giroud, Batshuayi was free to discuss the terms of a loan with Dortmund – the clubs had agreed a deal in principle – though he still trained with Conte’s squad on Tuesday and, with Morata currently injured, was due to start Wednesday’s game against Bournemouth.
“He trained well and I prepared the game with him,” said Conte, who had spoken to Batshuayi before training to explain the situation. “It’s not the best situation to face, but we have to. I have Morata injured and I don’t have other options. It’s not been easy to prepare.”
Conte will welcome the Roma wing-back Emerson Palmieri to the club on deadline day for an initial £17m, subject to a stringent medical given the player suffered an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury on the final day of last season. Yet the head coach, who has made clear he has limited input into Chelsea’s transfer policy, suggested he had not personally recommended the player to the recruitment department.
“I don’t remember Palmieri [from his time in Italy] because he only came to Italy last season [it was actually 2015], when he had an important season for Rome,” added Conte. “Then he had a bad injury. He broke his ligaments. Now he’s recovering. I don’t know if he’s ready to play. I know that he played only one game in the Italian club against Torino.”