Arsene Wenger has huge respect for Olivier Giroud but conceded Alexandre Lacazette is likely to be first choice at centre-forward for Arsenal this season.
Record-signing Lacazette played on the left-hand side of the attack as the Gunners beat Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, with Giroud filling his customary role at number nine and opening the scoring.
The 30-year-old, who has been linked with Everton, West Ham and Marseille during the close season, was most recently touted for a move to Borussia Dortmund in the event of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang leaving Signal Iduna Park.
Wenger praised Giroud’s showing in Sydney but, with Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck coming off the bench and Alexis Sanchez to come into the mix – pending well-trodden questions over his own future – the veteran Frenchman suggested Lacazette will not be used in a wide role too often.
“Lacazette will play most of the time as centre forward,” he said. “He can play in any system because he’s a provider as well, he can combine and play in a 4-4-2.
“At the moment he plays a little bit behind Giroud, tonight he was more on the left, and he can play in that position as well.”
Wenger added: “There is a lot of speculation, I have many times said that I have a huge respect for Olivier Giroud for the man he is and the way he loves our club.
“Even with all the speculation he is focused and does his job. I always said [that I expect him to stay], I was always consistent with that.”
Speaking in the mixed zone afterwards, Giroud was giving little away when the prospect of a switch to Everton was put to him, saying: “I am still an Arsenal player for the moment and I want to prepare well for the new season.”
He was more talkative on his link up with fellow Frenchman Lacazette, however, adding: “He’s a good player. It’s always easy to play with this kind of player. We have a good understanding on the pitch.
“We’ve had a bit of an opportunity to play together with the national team and I think he will settle well into the English Premier League.”