Olivier Giroud: Not your average Premier League target

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Olivier Giroud did not sign a professional contract until he was 19, and hadn't played a single minute of top-flight football until a few months shy of his 24th birthday.

Today, the 25-year-old Montpellier striker sits proudly at the top of the French goalscoring charts, with 16 goals in 24 appearances, helping his current club to second place in the Ligue 1 table.

Giroud has made a rapid rise from relative obscurity, after making his full international debut for Laurent Blanc's Les Bleus side last week. He played a starring role in a 2-1 away victory against Germany - the 6ft 4in forward bringing a new sense of optimism, and physicality to France's attack.

The leading light of French football has not gone unnoticed, with a long list of top European clubs keeping a watchful eye over Giroud's development. Plenty of that interest stems from the Premier League.

The likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Newcastle have all been linked with moves, while Giroud's name has also been mentioned in Germany by Bayern Munich, and Italy by Napoli amongst a number of other clubs. His potential, it appears, knows no bounds.

Giroud is an archetypal late bloomer, destined for the Premier League stage. The man who could lead the line for France against England at Euro 2012 in Donetsk in June, will have another opportunity to showcase his talent, under the watchful eye of scouts around the world.

He certainly boasts some familiar attributes – Giroud's tall, physically imposing stature and technical ability should make him well-suited to the English game - whilst his extravagant valuation, quoted by Montpellier president at £50million, suggests he would fit in with the Premier League's financial manifesto in an ever-inflating transfer market.

However, delve a little deeper and it's clear that Giroud is not your run-of-the-mill professional footballer. There's no ego here. He is among the lowest-paid players in Ligue 1, and the fact that some of his France teammates earn in a month what he earns in a year only emphasises the gulf in his motivation, his modesty.

Giroud also has a university degree - he appears to be nothing like the common stereotype - as further highlighted in a recent interview with an Italian newspaper, when the player revealed he turned down a move to Celtic, in a bid to focus on his football development, adding further weight to the suggestion that his next move would not be motivated by money.

"If wages were a priority, I would have signed for Celtic instead of Montpellier," he said. "For me, it's important to have fun on the pitch, to play in front of a packed house, to feel the love of the fans and, above all, to play in the Champions League.

"Studying [also] helped me on a mental level and on a human level. It was a necessity.

"And besides, it's good for you to talk and think about something other than football and meet people from outside the game."

It seems increasingly improbable for a late developer to make his way from football's lower reaches in the modern-day game. But that is exactly what Giroud has set about achieving.

Having spent most of his burgeoning career outside of France's top division - first, as an apprentice with Grenoble, he then moved to Istres and Tours, before finally making the step up to Montpellier.

Giroud was regarded as a relatively cheap gamble, but his impact has been nothing short of sensational. It won't be long before another team takes the same punt on a player that looks destined for footballing stardom.

Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League
Newcastle United

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