The departure of Robin Van Persie last summer left Arsenal devoid of pure striking options. Olivier Giroud, though quick to brush off any comparisons with the Dutchman, was purchased from Montpellier with the hope that he could replace his predecessor's output.
Just one year later, Giroud's future at the club remains unclear.
Critics can easily reference Giroud's failure to score consistently against top opposition, but fans of the Frenchman can point to a decent strike rate of 11 league goals in 24 starts and remind us that it was his first season of Premier League play.
Arsene Wenger has been quite positive about Giroud, indicating there is more to come from the striker, via ESPN FC. But Giroud reads the headlines. He knows he has not completely convinced the Arsenal faithful, and he must find it hard to believe Wenger's praise when the club is so openly pursuing top-class strikers.
Constant transfer speculation surrounding Arsenal’s front line raises questions about Giroud's role in the coming years. According to the International Business Times, the North London club has been pursuing both Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid and Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic.
Arsenal have demonstrated their interest for Higuain, a player who boasts a tremendous strike rate of 16 league goals in 19 starts, but has been unable to hold down a starting spot at Real Madrid. Instead, the No. 9 job has been shared by both Higuain and Karim Benzema throughout his stay in the capital city.
This type of rotation is craved by every top club, but it cannot last forever. Just as Higuain is looking to leave Madrid, via ESPN FC, Giroud would be unsatisfied as a part-time attacking option for the Gunners.
Should either Jovetic or Higuain arrive at the Emirates this offseason, Arsene Wenger will have a headache picking a starting XI. Wenger must decide soon whether or not Giroud has the potential to lead the front line as the Gunners aspire to mount a serious title challenge.
Giroud's sporadic moments of quality indicate he might be the man for the job, but his failure to score against the three teams ahead of Arsenal in the table is a worrying sign. The emergence of Theo Walcott as a real goal-threat and the addition of another high-caliber striker might be enough to force Giroud through the exit door.
Today’s public transfer courtships take their toll. The Gunners must look to bolster their striking options this summer, but they should proceed with caution. They need to accurately assess Giroud's future at the club before he is pushed to the fringe of the team.
Just ask Marouane Chamakh.