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Report: D.C. United among possible MLS destinations for Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud

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Call it The Rooney Effect

D.C. United continues to be linked with big-name English Premier League players, as a report from Dan Riccio of Vancouver sports radio station Sportsnet 650 has linked Chelsea striker and France international Olivier Giroud with at least some interest in a move to the District:

First of all, let’s assume that this list of cities means Washington, DC, rather than being mostly cities and also a reference to Washington, the state. If the story is true, and the Vancouver Whitecaps had an approach for the 33-year-old target man turned down, D.C. is being listed with the traditional cities that European stars want to come play in (LA, New York, Miami) and a club that has signed a world-famous player in recent years (Chicago, who just lost Bastian Schweinsteiger to retirement).

There are reasons to regard this link as at least somewhat plausible. United signed Wayne Rooney at the same age as Giroud is now, and during a somewhat similar situation with regards to his club career. Whereas Rooney’s role at Everton was uncertain at the time United signed their current captain, Giroud’s seems defined without being satisfactory for a player of his stature. Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has only played Giroud in 3 of the club’s 8 games this season, and he has not seen any playing time in the league since the start of September. His only start was in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City back on August 18.

The appeal of Giroud from United’s perspective would be clear: another big name that would resonate with the same segment of the region’s soccer fans that turned up for Rooney, and another player capable of scoring plenty of goals in MLS. A player who still gets called up by the defending men’s World Cup champions — Giroud has started in 5 of Les Blues’ 6 Euro 2020 qualifiers, scoring 3 goals — is good enough to contend for a Golden Boot in MLS, provided said player is still giving it his all.

On the other hand, United has already spent a club-record fee to acquire Ola Kamara, both to bolster this year’s attack and to lead the line after Rooney’s departure. Kamara has produced, too, scoring 3 goals in 257 minutes. The hypothetical signing has echoes of the situation Kamara went through during his time with the LA Galaxy, where he was slated to be the team’s number 9 until they acquired Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Kamara went on to score 14 goals that season, playing as a winger in a 4231, and that would be the most likely outcome here if United actually ended up signing Giroud. However, we are a looooong way off from discussing formations or how Dave Kasper will work Giroud’s signing within MLS roster regulations. With Rooney’s impending move back to England approaching the moment United’s playoff run ends, rumors linking players of a similar profile — early 30s, attacking player, starred for a European national team, played for a big club in the Premier League — will likely continue for the next few years, regardless of MLS rules or the realities of how the roster is currently structured.

Giroud isn’t the first Premier League star linked with DCU since Rooney’s departure became reality. Arsenal playmaker Mesut Özil’s representatives have already had meetings with United, though the first order of business concerned his 39 Steps Coffee Haus chain being part of the retail on the ground level at Audi Field.