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Olivier Giroud has not given up hope of regaining a place in Chelsea’s Premier League team on the back of prolific form in European competition as the World Cup winner seeks to extend his stay for a further year.
The Frenchman’s perfect hat-trick in Thursday’s 5-0 thrashing of Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine established him as the leading scorer in this season’s Europa League, with nine goals in as many games.
Yet the 32-year-old, an £18m signing from Arsenal in January 2018, has played only 56 minutes of top-flight football this calendar year and has not started since late December.
He has not started a league match for the Stamford Bridge outfit since December 30, with Gonzalo Higuain having arrived in west London to replace Alvaro Morata in the January transfer window.
Giroud, though, is not happy playing second fiddle and insists his form in continental competition is proof that he has what it takes to be given more opportunities domestically.
“No chance [I will deputise for another striker],” Giroud told reporters. “I’m a competitor. I have been through a lot of tough moments in my career. I want to enjoy playing my football after winning the World Cup last summer.
“I want to take maximum pleasure on the pitch. That’s why when I play I try to enjoy the game as much as I can. I want to play every single game and to be happy on the pitch. But I am not picking the team. The manager makes some choices.
“I play in the Europa League, and I am happy to help the team to go through the stages, step by step. The target is clearly to win it. The Premier League is another thing you know? I’m 32, but I’m still young. I feel very well physically.
“When I do the tests on the treadmill I have to say that I have one of the best tests [at the club]. Physically I feel very good. I have the motivation to carry on.
“Some of the boys asked me why I didn’t retire after the World Cup with the national team, but I’m still hungry, and I know how much I will miss football after my career. I want more and more. I think I have a few nice years in front of me.
“I don’t know how many, my body will tell me. I still feel as fresh as when I was in my twenties. I remember all of my hat-tricks, but this one was important because it was an international game in the Europa League.
“I scored a hat-trick for Arsenal against Olympiacos when they needed to win by three goals, and we won 3-0. But this was the best day for Chelsea. When I have the opportunity to play and finish well the work of my team-mates, I do it with great pleasure.”