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You don’t even know how good Olivier Giroud really is

If Arsenal fans could swap him for a host of global strikers in a minute it seems like they’d do it. He’s the kind of forward who doesn’t depend on the form of the team behind him to score and more often than not his goals prove crucial. But no one gives a crap. Why?

Arsenal have never had the loyalty issues from the Frenchman the way they have from Ozil or Sanchez or any of the players who’ve left over the years.  Yet Giroud has scored 70 goals in 170 appearances. He’s got something like a 1 goal every 2 games career record and he regularly hits in and around 20 goals a year for the gunners.

He’s not Harry Kane. But players like this are as intrinsic to a club’s success as guys like Sanchez. He’s a worker.  He’s a provider. He’ll accept being benched and will assume his role in the pecking order behind Lacazette. Maybe I’m wrong. But something tells me he’ll be serving the club long after his compatriot is gone.

Arsenal Legend Thierry Henry remarked a couple of years back that the side would never win a league title with Giroud leading the line up front. And maybe he’s right. But there’s a reason Giroud didn’t replace Lacazette at his old club over the summer. Wenger knows his value.  High quality second string players like this are rare and really really valuable.

But what people don’t realise is how much the decision had to do with a fateful phone call from Mumbai Wenger received in the dead of night. One he would never forget.

On the other line was none other than Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane. The line was fuzzy. It sounded like it was raining in Mumbai but Keane spoke softly, carefully, as if he only had one last chance to convey this information, and it was crucial that he got it across.

“They’ve recovered the amulet,” he whispered, thunder rumbling around him, “but all is not lost. Our allies haven’t yet died in vain. Wenger confirmed he understood the message. “Giroud could still be the key. Don’t let him out of your sight. Not for a second.” And then a click on the line and it went dead. Wenger sat up in his West London bed and fought to quell the tears coming to his eyes. It had been the news he had dreaded. And he hoped Keane had been right. That all was not yet lost.

That same moment, in a Mumbai side street, Robbie Keane stood over the corpse of yet another famous footballer. This one horribly murdered. He grimaced deeply and flicked his cigarette out into the rain. He had come to India to solve a murder, now, four murders later, he was no closer to the culprit. But there was one clue. A small photograph. It was a jade elephant. Let the hunt begin, he thought.

Keane stepped back into the rain, clutching his mackintosh tight around him. He’d thought he’d seen it all. But four footballers murdered in as many weeks. Lee Bowyer, Michael Bridges, Lee Carsley and now, worst of all, Ian Harte. Keane lit another cigarette, shielding the flame against the harsh seasonal weather. This was just beginning. He would have to find Didi Hamann.


Robbie Keane and the curse of the Jade Elephant will continue...

Feature image: reuters

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