The former Gunners striker feels for a fellow Frenchman who is pushing for a summer switch away from Emirates Stadium after nine years in north London

Laurent Koscielny may have gone AWOL at Arsenal in an effort to force a move away from the club, but former Gunners striker Olivier Giroud says his fellow Frenchman is “very hurt” by the unfortunate episode.

After nine years of loyal service in north London, and with 12 months left to run on his current contract, the club captain at Emirates Stadium is looking for a way out.

Koscielny is hoping to see his deal ripped up, allowing him to return to his homeland as a free agent.

He is considered by many to have gone the wrong way about trying to force a switch, with the 33-year-old defender having refused to travel with the Arsenal squad to a pre-season base in the United States.

It has been suggested that his legacy will be tarnished by his actions, but Giroud – who left the Gunners for Chelsea in January 2018 – believes his countryman and close friend will be hurting.

The World Cup-winning striker told BBC Sport: “Lolo is a good friend of mine. 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.”

Giroud knows all about heading for the exits at Arsenal, but his situation was entirely different as he was not looking for a move and ended up being offloaded after Arsene Wenger drafted in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to bolster the Gunners’ attacking options.

“I didn’t want to leave,” added a man who spent five-and-half years at the Emirates.

“I spoke with the boss – at this time, Arsene – and I told him: ‘Look, gaffer, I need some game time to play at the World Cup, that’s massive for me.’

“At the end of the day, we won it, so it was very important for me to leave.

“It was tough for me, but it was amazing to sign for a club like Chelsea. It was like an improvement for me because – OK, it’s Manchester City now – but Chelsea have been the best club in England over the past 10 years.

“It was a new challenge with big motivation, big targets.”

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