‘I nearly quit Arsenal’, admits Giroud

London : Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud admitted on Wednesday that he came close to leaving the club in the close season before deciding to stay because his “story is not over”.

The France international has fallen behind club-record signing and compatriot Alexandre Lacazette in the pecking order this season but has come off the bench in all of the Gunners’ games so far this season.

Danny Welbeck also appears to be ahead of Giroud in the manager’s thoughts, but the 30-year-old is likely to get a rare chance to impress from the start in Thursday’s Europa League clash with Cologne.

Manager Arsene Wenger will make a number of changes as Arsenal play in the competition for the first time in 17 years, with Giroud expected to be one of several alterations.

The forward, who scored a late winner in the opening-day Premier League victory against Leicester City, has struggled to hold down a regular first-team place at the Emirates Stadium and admitted he nearly quit over the summer having been linked with the likes of Everton and West Ham United. Asked how close he came to leaving Arsenal, Giroud told reporters at the club’s training base north of London: “Actually that’s a very private decision because it’s true that I was close to leaving the club because I said that I wanted to play.

“But after a big reflection with everybody around me, like my family and my close friends, I (decided I) wanted to stay at Arsenal and I thought the story was not over, (not) finished at Arsenal.

“The club bring me a lot and I think I give it back. I still want to improve again and again and win some more trophies for the club, so as I said to the boss our story is not finished, so everybody was pleased with that.”

Wenger has always maintained his desire to keep Giroud -- who has 99 goals for the club -- at Arsenal and was full of praise for the striker on the eve of the Cologne clash.

“I have said many times that his contribution has been huge,” he said.

“He has had a great evolution here and overall (his) contribution has been tremendous, and I think he has shown a very loyal spirit and has a high respect from everybody inside the club, as well as (from) our fans.”

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