Thomas Tuchel says striker Olivier Giroud is a “key figure” and the head coach is relying on the Frenchman’s experience as he juggles a young squad of forwards.
Giroud is, by some distance, the elder statesman of the attacking ranks at Stamford Bridge at the age of 34. Tammy Abraham is 23, Timo Werner 24, Christian Pulisic 22 and Callum Hudson-Odoi just 20.
The next most experienced alongside Giroud is Hakim Ziyech at 27 but also add in 21-year-old Kai Havertz to the equation then Tuchel has a very young attacking third of the pitch.
Mason Mount often plays in an advanced role and he is still only 22.
With Giroud around the forwards it brings not only Premier League experience but also, World Cup winning experience from 2018 with France when they scooped football’s biggest prize in Russia.
Giroud’s future at Chelsea is never far from the headlines as he is consistently linked with moves away off the back of international duty when his manager Didier Deschamps normally has something to say about it.
But his latest head coach at Chelsea says Giroud’s experience is invaluable to him and the young crop of attacking talent at the club.
The 34-year-old is out of contract at the club at the end of the season and Tuchel admitted that talks haven’t begun on offering an extension to Giroud yet because he simply hasn’t had time.
“No decisions made because it’s too soon to make them this season,” Tuchel said.
“I don’t have enough time because I only started three weeks ago and I need time to get to know the group better while everybody also deserves more time to show what they can do.
“What I can say about it is that I am super happy he is here, he is one of the top stickers in the box, he has an incredible first touch when takes balls directly out of the air and is very strong, with headers too.
“He did an amazing game against Newcastle,he is very strong in training and very impressive.
“Right now he plays a key role in the squad where we have a lot of young offensive players, so he is a key figure.
“Not because he plays every three day for 96 minutes but wth the way he behaves, his experience on a daily basis so far, the last three days he has been in the most positive way that we can wish and this is what I like.
“I am very clear and from there we go and when decisions arrive, we will make it but as I said, it’s too soon.”
Giroud is in line for a start against Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday despite Tammy Abraham recovering from the ankle problem that forced him off against Newcastle on Monday.
Giroud replaced the England international in the first half after a hefty challenge from Jamaal Lascelles and netted the opening goal of the game as he lashed home from close range after Timo Wenrer’s cross was carried into his path by Toon stopper Karl Darlow.
The Blues will not risk Thiago Silva ahead of Tuesday’s game with Atletico Madrid by playing him this weekend despite the veteran Brasilian returning to training this week.
Kai Havertz is available for the Blues having missed the last fortnight of action but there is a doubt over Christian Pulisic, who aggravated a calf muscle in training on Thursday and left early as a precaution.