Giroud wants 'important role' at Chelsea, won't be second choice
LONDON -- Olivier Giroud has warned Chelsea that he is not prepared to be second-choice striker next season even if the club decides to keep him.
Chelsea have yet to inform Giroud -- who is the Europa League's top scorer with nine goals but has started just seven Premier League matches this season under Maurizio Sarri -- whether or not they will trigger an extension option to his current contract, which expires in June.
And while the France international insisted he is happy to remain at Stamford Bridge beyond this summer, he is adamant that he wants a bigger role.
"Trust me, I'm not happy to play the second role [in the squad]," Giroud said in a news conference to preview Thursday's match against Slavia Prague at Stamford Bridge. "That's why I said, next year, I will need to have a more important role to play in the team.
"I don't know [if Chelsea will trigger the extension]. I have no clue about that now. I have to meet Marina [Granovskaia]. But obviously I'm happy to be here. The thing is I just want to enjoy. It's not because I'm 32 and I've won the World Cup, because I don't want to retire. I'm not satisfied with second place."
Asked if it is now Chelsea's decision to make, Giroud replied: "That's it. They must talk to me before the end of the season.
"The thing is, obviously, we are still waiting to find out whether the club will have the opportunity to buy players or not, so maybe it's a bit confusing now. But I'll try. With what I've achieved here, there is no reason they won't give me one more year. But I need to be happy, also.
"The most important thing for me is to enjoy the game, be happy on the pitch and to have more minutes. I'm a competitor so yes, obviously... I don't want to talk about that. That's not the point. But I really want to play more."
Giroud is likely to be the attacking focal point of a strong Chelsea side against Slavia Prague on Thursday, with Sarri under huge pressure to deliver Champions League qualification this season either through winning the competition or finishing in the Premier League's top four.
They will be without Antonio Rudiger, who limped out of Sunday's 2-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield with a knee injury, while Marcos Alonso, Ethan Ampadu and Danny Drinkwater also sat out training at Cobham on Wednesday.
Gianfranco Zola assumed media duties after Sarri underwent a minor surgical procedure on his mouth, and said Rudiger's injury is not as bad as first feared.
"When he came off limping, we were worried," Zola said. "Apparently it's not that bad. He's a strong boy and he'll be back sooner than you expect."
Asked if Rudiger could return in time for Chelsea's crucial Premier League clash with Manchester United on April 28, Zola replied: "There is a strong possibility that we see him. He's a warrior and won't want to miss a game like that. The next few days will be very important to see if he can continue recovering."