Olivier Giroud heads to Euro 2024 at 37 years old but still a key man for one of the tournament favourites. Can he say goodbye to international football by adding another trophy?

Olivier Giroud recently announced that he would join Los Angeles FC in July, straight after Euro 2024, making the tournament a farewell tour for France’s top scorer (57 goals). Yet despite being 37 years old, he remains a major asset for Didier Deschamps.

From the group of 14 players who appeared for France in the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow, who would have thought back then that Olivier Giroud would be one of the five make it to Euro 2024 (along with Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, N’Golo Kanté and Benjamin Pavard)? Even then, he was already the oldest Bleu on the match sheet.

Since that world title, Olivier Giroud has set record after record for the French national team. Overtaking Thierry Henry as his nation’s all-time leading scorer was the most notable of those.

France all time top scorers

While Henry held that record for 15 years, Giroud is unlikely to have that opportunity. Mbappé is only 11 goals behind him; at his age (25), Giroud had scored only once at international level.

The comparison may be unfair, though. The soon-to-be-former PSG striker is the wonderkid par excellence while Giroud was a late bloomer, debuting in a top-flight league at almost 24. He has suffered from comparisons by the French public and even by his rivals in the France attack, such as Karim Benzema, who once said: “You can’t confuse an F1 car with a go-kart and I’m being kind.”

One criticism aimed at Giroud has been his lack of goals at international tournaments, especially during the 2018 World Cup, when he failed to score a single goal. However, he kept the trust of Deschamps and he repaid his manager by leading the team to World Cup glory, and then by finding the net four times in Qatar in 2022, including the winner against England in the quarter-finals.

France oldest goalscorers

Deschamps is not the sort of man to give credence to criticism like that. During his long tenure with France (incredibly, he’s been in the role since August 2012), he has tried to play both with and without Giroud, and he has clearly concluded that the striker brings something more to the team. France have won 72% of the games with Giroud in the starting line-up under Deschamps (63/88), compared to 56% when he is not (41/73).

For many years, Giroud kept saying that he would go on with Les Bleus as long as possible. He has changed his mind now, though, admitting that this summer’s Euros is likely to be his last dance with the French team. There are more records to be broken between now and the end of his international career, though.

With his next appearance – in either of France’s warm-up games or at the tournament itself – he will become the oldest player to appear for France (37 years, 249 days if he plays against Luxembourg on 5 June).

Deschamps has built his team so that Mbappé can express himself at his best, and Giroud plays a complementary role as a striker. He averages just 28 touches per 90 minutes over the last three seasons for France, fewer than any other outfield player, but most of them are in dangerous area. Almost 20% are in the penalty area, for example.

Olivier Giroud touches
Kylian mbappe touches

Giroud’s height (193cm) and ability in the air are both useful, too. He has 16 headed goals for France, with no other player having scored 10 for France over the past 50 years, and wins plenty of aerial duels – 19 during the last World Cup, for example, which was more than any other France player.

It would be too simplistic to think that Giroud is just a tall guy to receive long passes and crosses, though. He deals brilliantly with pressure from opposing defenders, and effectively plays off one touch with his back to goal. In qualifying for Euro 2024, 26% of his successful passes in open play were lay-offs (10/38).

He’s not the only one who can fulfil this role for France, though, and Deschamps has some options that will allow him to look to the future, in Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani. The manager likes to rotate between these options to maintain a healthy level of competition between them. Since the beginning of 2023, Giroud has started only six of France’s 12 games (4 goals); Kolo Muani has had more minutes over that period, but he struggled close to goal until recently. He has two goals and one assist in his last two starts, after picking up none in his previous five games.

Even at club level, Giroud still boasts numbers to remain competitive with Kolo Muani and Thuram. In 47 games played in all competitions this season, Giroud has a hand in 26 goals with Milan (17 goals, nine assists) – at least nine more than any other player aged 36 or older in the top five European leagues.

Thuram has a similar record with Internazionale (15 goals, seven assists in 46 apps), but Kolo Muani experienced a somewhat disappointing first season with PSG, scoring nine goals in all competitions at the club. He has also failed to score in his last 16 appearances at club level. It all means Giroud is likely to once again lead the line for France.

Euro 2024 will be Giroud’s fourth and surely final European Championship. It’ll be his seventh international tournament in total, equaling the highest tally for a French player, previously set by Lilian Thuram, Thierry Henry, Steve Mandanda and Hugo Lloris.

But he isn’t going to Germany to be a bit-part player. He has the opportunity to finish his international career on a high note and play a key role in doing so. France go into the summer among the favourites to win Euro 2024, and Giroud could well add the Euros to an already impressive trophy cabinet which includes the Champions League, Europa League and World Cup. It would be a wonderful way to say goodbye.

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