Rennes boss Julien Stephan has praised Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud, saying his professional attitude despite a lack of regular first-team football is an “exceptional” example for other players to follow.
The 34-year-old has played more games for France than Chelsea this season, with summer signing Timo Werner pushing him further down the Stamford Bridge pecking order.
Werner has quickly established himself as Chelsea’s first-choice striker, while Tammy Abraham is currently boss Frank Lampard’s preferred back-up.
It means Giroud has been restricted to just seven appearances for the London club in all competitions, with September’s Carabao Cup defeat against Tottenham his only start. Most of his other appearances have been fleeting cameos in the closing stages of games.
That has led to speculation linking Giroud with a move away from the club in January, with the former Arsenal player eager for regular first-team football in order to secure his place in the France squad for next summer’s European Championships.
Responding to those rumours, Lampard said Giroud is a “huge member of the squad” and still considers him to be a vital part of his plans going forward, with talks over his future due to take place imminently.
Giroud could be handed a rare opportunity to impress when Chelsea take on Stephan’s Rennes side in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The 40-year-old believes Giroud’s struggles for regular action highlights the strength in depth Lampard has at his disposal, though he also thinks the Blues boss is lucky to have a player with such an exemplary attitude sat on the bench.
“When I was talking about big players in the Chelsea squad squad who are not starting, I was thinking of him [Giroud] in particular," he told reporters.
“It shows the wealth of these clubs with the options they can have. Lots of clubs have these tough [selection] issues.
“Giroud is an exceptional example for other players in terms of attitude. Even if he only plays for a few minutes, he has total commitment on the pitch.
"This shows he is an elite level player, who able to give their best whatever their status.”
Stephan also insisted he is not going to panic despite Rennes poor recent form, which has seen them lose five out of their last six matches in all competitions. They have failed to score in four of those, including Friday’s home defeat by Bordeaux.
The Ligue 1 side are also bottom of their Champions League group and could be eliminated with two games remaining if they lose to Chelsea.
“We must not panic,” he added. “We are obviously disappointed with the results and the performance against Bordeaux.
"We will approach the game with confidence and dynamism. We are together, united together, and with a fierce will, we will find the solution, it is a certainty.”