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Giroud throws weight behind Koscielny in Arsenal row



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Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny is “very hurt” by his conflict with the club, his friend and former team-mate Olivier Giroud has told the BBC.

Koscielny has refused to travel on the pre-season tour of the USA after the Gunners rejected his transfer request, and is facing disciplinary proceedings.

The 33-year-old French defender has been criticised, but Giroud said: “You cannot make a judgement when you don’t have all the clues. I’m pretty sure we don’t know everything in this situation.”

The Chelsea and France striker, who played for Arsenal between 2012 and 2018, added: “I hope both sides will find the best agreement.”

Koscielny joined Arsenal from Lorient for about £10m in 2010 and has made 353 appearances for the Premier League club, leading the side intermittently before being appointed permanent captain a year ago.

An Achilles injury ruled him out of France’s triumphant 2018 World Cup campaign, but the centre-back returned in December and helped the Gunners reach the Europa League final, which they lost to Giroud’s Chelsea.

Before that match in Baku, Arsenal were in talks with Koscielny over a new contract.

However, it is understood the defender was unhappy with their offer – and that, along with growing discontent over the way his playing schedule was managed and the direction he felt the team and club were going, led Koscielny to ask for a move.

Arsenal rejected his plea and also deny the Frenchman’s assertion there was some form of agreement in place allowing him to be released for free this summer.

Gunners boss Unai Emery was pleased with Koscielny’s performance last season and still sees him playing a key role, so would only consider sanctioning his exit if a suitable offer arrived, which has not yet happened.

Koscielny is training in London while the club consider his punishment for refusing to tour.

“Lolo is a good friend of mine,” said Giroud in an exclusive interview. “I’ve known him now for 10, 11 years. We played together in the second division [in France, at Tours].

“He’s been playing for Arsenal for nine years; he’s been the skipper for so many years – very respectful, very professional, always the best example for the young players.

“The club gave him the opportunity to play at Arsenal, and it was a big, big opportunity for him to show his quality in the Premier League. I think he has always been grateful about that and respectful to the club. I don’t understand how we have got to this situation.

“I feel very sad for him because he’s a great person and the media wants to give a bad image of him.

“I’m not at the club, I don’t know what really happened – but one thing for sure is Lolo is very hurt by what’s happening and he’s an emotional person.”

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