World Cup: Ian Wright slams Graeme Souness for Olivier Giroud comments | Football
Ian Wright has hit out at Graeme Souness for ‘disrespecting’ former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud during the World Cup.
Souness took aim at Giroud prior to France’s World Cup group game against Denmark, calling him overrated and a ‘lucky anomaly’.
While Giroud failed to score against the Danes, his goal in the 3-1 last-16 win over Poland saw him become France’s all-time leading men’s goalscorer.
The AC Milan striker registered his 52nd goal for France to claim the record, surpassing Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
Despite Giroud’s fantastic record for France, Souness said he was ‘not his biggest fan’ and could not be compared to Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema, who has not featured in Qatar due to injury.
‘I’m not his biggest fan,’ ITV pundit Souness said of Giroud. ‘I’m just not. Seven games in the last World Cup, he’s a centre-forward in the team that wins it, he’s not had a shot on target.
‘I think he’s very lucky. When you mention him in the same breath as Thierry Henry, I’m sorry…
‘I would say his record is there for one reason and one reason only: Karim Benzema being out for such a long time, all the controversy he was involved in.
‘Benzema, the current Ballon d’Or winner, will be missed by the French team in this tournament if they go deep. Benzema is on another level [to Giroud], that’s the point I’m making.
‘The goalscoring record again… Apart from Benzema being out, the other [reason is because of] the amount of games the French team play in all these daft competitions.
‘You are smirking, but I just think it’s an anomaly. I don’t believes he’s… At 36, fair play to him. He’s still playing in the French team.
‘His best season in English football was 16 goals for Arsenal in our league. That’s a marker for anyone.
‘[But] I don’t think he’d get a look-in at this World Cup if Benzema had been here. He’s had a large slice of luck in his career.’
Giroud spent several years in the lower leagues in France before completing a £10m move to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in 2012.
Across his six-year spell at the Emirates, Giroud scored more than 100 goals and helped the Gunners win three FA Cups.
The Frenchman then spent four seasons at Chelsea – winning the Champions League and Europa League at Stamford Bridge – before joining AC Milan last year.
Speaking on his Ringer FC podcast, former Arsenal and England striker Wright said: ‘We have to give Olivier Giroud praise.
‘He’s broken Thierry Henry’s record and long may that last, although it won’t be long with the way Kylian Mbappe is going.
‘The thing with Giroud, you see the total lack of respect he gets. Graeme Souness was so disrespectful to him as a player and his goalscoring record. He didn’t give him any credit.
‘This guy was in the third tier of French football at 21. Arsene Wenger has said Giroud has had to earn every single thing he’s done to this point.
‘All Souness was saying was “he didn’t hit the target in the 2018 World Cup”. Giroud is essential to every team he’s played in. Goals don’t define him.
‘This is what people like Graeme Souness don’t understand. He’s so integral to the team, he’s integral to what players like Mbappe and Dembele do.
‘I don’t think there’s a better target man in the world in the way that he links the play, and he scores goals. He’s got to get more love man!’
Giroud, who has scored three goals at this World Cup, will hope to fire defending champions France past England when they meet in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
MORE : Granit Xhaka backs Arsenal star to replace Gabriel Jesus after World Cup injury
MORE : ‘Ian Wright hails Chelsea transfer target as Portugal smash Switzerland
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.