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Olivier Giroud came desperately close to leaving Arsenal to join Everton during the summer transfer window, sacked Toffees boss Ronald Koeman has revealed.
The France international was ‘in the building’ and ready to move to Goodison Park but a last-minute change of heart saw Giroud opt to stay at the Emirates. Koeman was axed by Everton bosses after a miserable start to the season, which finds the club in the relegation zone and facing a Europa League exit. And he admitted that missing out on Giroud to replace Manchester United frontman Romelu Lukaku was a tough pill to swallow. ‘I had Olivier Giroud in the building,’ Koeman told Dutch football magazine VI.
‘He would have fitted perfectly but, at the very last moment, he decided that he’d rather live in London, and stay at Arsenal. ‘That was really hard to swallow. You tell me, where you can get a better striker? ‘Lukaku was so important for us, not just because of his goals. If things were not going well in a game, if we could not play the way we were used to, there was always the option to use the long ball towards him.
All of a sudden, we were missing such a player. With Nikola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, we had attackers who want the ball at their feet.’ Koeman admitted he predicted a tough start for his side, which saw them face Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United in four of their opening five games. And with Lukaku’s exit combined with a tough fixture list, he knew he was in for a tough ride. ‘I was on holiday when I received the Premier League fixture list by e-mail,’ Koeman said.
‘I looked at it and saw that five of our first nine games would be against clubs from last season’s top six: Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Man United and Arsenal. ‘I looked at it again and I said to myself, “Phew! That is not going to be an easy run, in particular with a Europa League run at the same time”. And, most of all, because I had lost my striker Lukaku.’