CHELSEA will stop Olivier Giroud from leaving on a free transfer by exercising a one-year extension in his contract, according to reports.
The 33-year-old Frenchman looked almost certain to leave Stamford Bridge this summer with his deal expiring.
Giroud made just five league starts before the season was disrupted having fallen out of favour under Frank Lampard.
The likes of Lazio and Inter Milan were ready to battle it out for his signature in the summer having missed out on him in January.
Chelsea were prepared to let him leave but failed to bring in his replacement meaning he was forced to stay in London.
Reports in Gianluca Di Marzio claim that the Blues want to ensure he stays with the rising uncertainty in the transfer market over the coronavirus pandemic.
It means clubs will now need to fork out a transfer fee if they want to sign the former Arsenal man.
His contract extension is unlikely to deter Lampard from making a move for a new striker in the summer having made that his top priority.
Current Blues striker Michy Batshuayi is heading for the exit door leaving Lampard with just Giroud and Tammy Abraham to lead the line.
The boss has already bolstered his attacking options with the addition of Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech but he wants a new No9 to add competition to his squad.
Chelsea could still sell Giroud if they receive a lucrative offer but they have been impressed with his attitude both on and off the field.
He was handed further first-team opportunities when Abraham picked up an ankle injury and took his chance with goals over Everton and Tottenham.