Olivier Giroud said he sympathises with Gary Cahill’s unhappiness at his lack of playing time for Chelsea this season, but that he hopes the defender does not seek a move away from Stamford Bridge in January.
Cahill replaced the injured Antonio Rudiger against West Ham on Sunday to make his first Chelsea appearance of the season, three days after he said he is likely to look to leave the club in the New Year if he remains out of Maurizio Sarri’s plans.
Giroud, who left Arsenal for Chelsea in January after becoming frustrated with a similar lack of first-team opportunities under Arsene Wenger, understands the way Cahill is feeling.
“We have a lot of good players who can play in the starting XI,” Giroud said after Chelsea’s 0-0 draw at London Stadium. “The problem is we have four or five centre-backs and the coach made his choice.
“Gary is not in a good position because it is quite tough for him, he doesn’t play so much. I understand that he wants to play more. At one stage I was the same and I didn’t like that. As players, we are happy when we are on the pitch.”
Cahill is also in jeopardy of losing the Chelsea captaincy after Sarri said earlier this month that he has decided who should wear the armband, but wants to talk to his players and the club before announcing his choice publicly.
But despite knowing how Cahill feels, Giroud is adamant that the 32-year-old will remain an important figure at Chelsea this season regardless of whether or not he is a regular presence in the starting XI.
“I think his heart is still in Chelsea and hopefully we will keep him because we need him,” Giroud said. “He needs to be happy, that is the main thing, but I hope he stays because he is important for us.
“He is a very good player. He’s been at Chelsea for six years, he is one of the faces of Chelsea and one of our captains. We need him.”
Cahill is in the final year of his contract, meaning he can begin negotiations to join other clubs on a free transfer next summer anytime from Jan. 1 and Chelsea are unlikely to receive a significant fee for selling him in the winter window.
Cahill could be handed his first start alongside Andreas Christensen when Chelsea face Liverpool at Anfield in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday, with Sarri set to make significant changes to his team ahead of the Premier League clash between the sides at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Eden Hazard, however, will not be given another midweek off according to assistant Gianfranco Zola, even if he is only among the substitutes at Anfield.
“It looks like the more Eden plays, the better he gets,” Zola said of Hazard, who was voted the seventh-best player in the world at the Best FIFA Football Awards in London on Monday. “We have another training session to decide things, but I think he will be part of the squad, anyway.
“I think Eden did magnificently in the World Cup. He’s a player who is getting better and better. I don’t think in my opinion he has reached his full potential. He can still use his skills in a better way. I truly believe this. I think this year, the team, Maurizio in particular, will help him to reach his full potential.”
Asked what role he can play in that process, Zola replied: “I don’t want it to look like we are not happy. We are very happy with him. As you play, you get more experiences, at a high level for a long time, you get better and learn how to use your abilities in a more efficient way. That’s what I mean.
“It’s a process he will do himself. We will try and suggest how to be more effective on the pitch, and he will benefit from the way we try to play.
“We try to play a long time in the opposition half. The closer we keep him to the goal, the more chances we can get him receiving the ball around the box, the more effective he will be.”