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French striker Giroud makes his MLS move, joining Los Angeles FC

Olivier Giroud AC Milan Olivier Giroud - The Canadian Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — World Cup-winning French striker Olivier Giroud is signing with Los Angeles FC.

LAFC formally announced the long-anticipated move Tuesday for the 37-year-old Giroud, who leaves Europe after 18 years in the top professional leagues in France, England and Italy. Giroud confirmed Monday that he would leave AC Milan for a Major League Soccer club.

Giroud joins LAFC as a designated player with a contract through 2025. The deal includes an option for 2026, the club said.

LAFC general manager John Thorrington said the club has been eager to add Giroud since last fall, and it attempted to land his services in the January transfer window. The 2022 MLS Cup champions and 2023 runners-up then decided to wait for Giroud to become available this summer, rather than signing another offensive star for the current season.

“The way he fits really complements our attacking group,” Thorrington told The Associated Press. “We do have some incredible attackers already here, but I think he will elevate us — not just with his own productivity, but I think what you see with his ability is he’s not just a pure goal-scorer. He is very good at facilitating play, and that’s what we saw, which is so compelling.”

Giroud is best known for his six prolific seasons at Arsenal from 2012-18, followed by three years apiece at Chelsea and Milan. He has scored 285 goals in 716 matches during his club career while winning a wealth of trophies, including a Champions League triumph with Chelsea three years ago.

Giroud also is a star for the French national team, scoring a record 57 goals and playing for Les Bleus' World Cup winners in 2018. He is expected to play again for France at this year's at the European Championship, which begins next month.

It's unclear exactly when Giroud will debut for LAFC, but it's likely to be in late July. Defender Giorgio Chiellini didn't make his LAFC debut until mid-July after signing with the club in May 2022 following a full season at Juventus.

“I am delighted and excited to join LAFC,” Giroud said in a statement issued by the club. “I can't wait to get to Los Angeles and to play in front of the 3252 (supporters' section) and all of the incredible fans.”

Giroud will finish up a solid season for Milan with two more matches. He is currently fourth in Serie A with 14 goals, and he is among the league’s top overall playmakers as well.

“His productivity is incredible,” Thorrington said. “We’ve never had just a pure goal-scorer. That’s not the way we play. I think his combination of skill sets, with his ability to link play, his ability to finish, his tactical mentality, we think he’ll be an incredible addition.”

LAFC is fifth in MLS' Western Conference at 5-4-3, but manager Steve Cherundolo's team isn't currently struggling to score goals while led by Denis Bouanga. The French-born forward who represents Gabon internationally tops LAFC with six goals, and the club's 22 goals in league play are more than every MLS team except Lionel Messi's Inter Miami and crosstown rival LA Galaxy.

Giroud will be reunited at LAFC with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, his longtime teammate for France. Lloris left Tottenham to sign with LAFC ahead of this season, and both stars have young families who embraced the chance to live in sunny Los Angeles. Giroud and his wife, Jennifer, have four children.

“I think it helps that we have one of his best friends in football in Hugo as our goalkeeper,” Thorrington said. “I don’t think he’s coming just because of that, but I think that did enable conversations at a different level than I could have with him. What’s it like to play there? What’s it like for your family? That helped Olivier make the decision.”

Giroud’s years of club success and World Cup stardom have made him an international star with a famous face. But Thorrington said that’s not the primary motivation for the move by LAFC, which also signed MLS Cup Final hero Gareth Bale for a brief, trophy-winning stint in 2022.

LAFC's roster is built on a bedrock of talent from throughout North and South America, but headlined in recent years by European luminaries — from Chiellini and Bale to Bouanga and Giroud.

“We are a star town, and we’ve never shied away from (the fact) that matters in LA,” Thorrington said. “But we don’t ever invest because of just that. It needs to be the right combination, but certainly when our owners met with Olivier and you can see his hunger to win, it’s very clear that he’s coming here to help bring this club to the success that everybody wants.”


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