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French connection the key for Giroud

France striker Olivier Giroud snubbed a move to Chelsea in favour of joining Arsenal because of the Gunners' strong French influence.

Giroud completed his £13m transfer from Montpellier yesterday after rejecting the chance to sign for the Champions League winners.

The in-demand 25-year-old prefers the set-up at Arsenal, and suspected Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo knew little about him.

"Why did I choose Arsenal rather than Chelsea?" Giroud said. "Because it is a club I love and I thought it would be easier for my adaptation.

"Arsenal is a great club. I feel it is a club that takes big care before signing a player, notably considering human values.

"There are French players. There is also Arsene Wenger who let me understand he really wanted me. Chelsea is very nice, it is a great club, but I am not convinced Di Matteo knows who I am."

Giroud denies he has been bought by Arsenal as a replacement for Robin van Persie. Van Persie is stalling over agreeing a new contract and has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester City.

"I know what to expect," Giroud said. "Van Persie is a fantastic player who was outstanding last season. He has been at Arsenal for eight years and I hope I will have time to adapt and improve. Anyway, I don't go there to take his place."

Irish Independent