Over the past couple weeks, reporting indicated that Atlético Madrid had closed in on Milan striker Nikola Kalinić as the primary backup to Diego Costa. The Croatian did not come without question marks, though — even as Atlético negotiated terms with the 30-year-old and his club. Kalinić scored just six times from 41 appearances last season after the rossoneri acquired him from Fiorentina, and he was kicked off his nation’s World Cup squad following the very first group match.
However, Milan’s volatile ownership situation — the seven-time European champions have been taken over by U.S.-based Elliott Management Corporation — apparently has convinced Atlético to explore other options. Indeed, Sky Italia claimed Friday evening that Atleti had asked Chelsea about French forward Olivier Giroud’s status.
Chelsea is making a move for Gonzalo Higuain. They’ve had their initial talks with Juventus, however, they have not spoken directly to the player’s entourage, namely his brother and agent, Nicolas, who is still in Buenos Aires. This is a sign that the deal is not imminent, even because Chelsea is working towards selling players.
In that sense, Atletico Madrid has asked for Giroud and there has been a meeting in London for the French player. The offer is for a paid loan with a right to purchase, but not an obligation, which is what Chelsea would want. (via Gianluca di Marzio’s English page)
In actuality, Kévin Gameiro’s and Simone Zaza’s futures are also linked with those of Giroud, Higuaín and Kalinić. Gameiro’s move to Valencia has not yet been finalized, and Zaza was mooted for a Milan move before coach Gennaro Gattuso seemingly shut the door on it.
Anyway, back to Giroud. The World Cup winner has a year to run on the contract he signed with Chelsea in January. He is a true target man — a big, burly aerial presence who holds up play and runs all the hard yards — and his partnership with Antoine Griezmann helped France to two finals in three years (even though he drew criticism for ending the World Cup without a shot on target). The 31-year-old scored just seven league goals last season between Arsenal and Chelsea and 12 across across all competitions, his lowest total since 2008/09. However, he still helped the Blues win the FA Cup — the fourth in his career.
That trophy-winning pedigree added to his chemistry with Griezmann has to be attractive to Atlético — and assuming that Giroud can be convinced to be Costa’s understudy, a loan move (even with possible obligation) seems safer and more beneficial than a flier on Kalinić.