Giroud: We can mount title fight
Wed, 12 Jun 2013 17:43:00
Lazio have completed the signing of highly-rated Argentinian defender Diego Novaretti from Mexican side Toluca.
The 28-year-old is due in Rome in next hours to undergo medicals with Lazio and will become their first signing for the new season.
Novaretti arrives as a free agent, and was targeted by Manchester City, but their interest waned after Roberto Mancini was relieved of his duties.
And the centre-half expressed his delight at the move, even if he wasn't expecting the switch.
"My purchase was a surprise. I hope to be a surprise for Lazio," he said upon his arrival.
The Gunners ended a poor campaign on a high last season, finishing strongly to secure fourth place ahead of Tottenham and with it another shot at the Champions League.
Giroud believes if Arsene Wenger's men can hit the ground running in August they will be able to take the challenge to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
"If we start better than we did this season, I know that we will compete for the title next year because we are used to playing together now and have improved as a team," Giroud told the Arsenal magazine.
"We have also improved as individuals throughout the season, especially the newcomers like Santi (Cazorla), Lukas (Podolski) and me."
Giroud joined Arsenal from Montpellier last summer and took some time to settle in before going on to become a focal point of the attack, finishing the season with 17 goals.
The 26-year-old feels next season can be even better on a personal level.
"It was not easy at all. It was a massive challenge," he said.
"I hope that as early as my second season, I can play week in week out and keep scoring regularly because it's key for a striker."
Giroud, who missed three of the Gunners' final four matches after his red card at Fulham, added: "I have scored fewer compared to last season in Montpellier but the ratio, minutes played to goals scored, is good.
"I scored 17 goals in all competitions and gave 10 assists which, for a first season in England, is good. I am happy with the stats.
"However, you can always do better and I know I can do better and there is a lot of room for improvement. That is why I am already looking forward to next season."
Arsenal are determined to strengthen over the summer, with additional funds of some ?70million available to the manager.
France Under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo is set to arrive on a free from Auxerre, with the Gunners also tracking several high-calibre reinforcements both from the Premier League and across Europe.
There are also set to be wage savings next season with the confirmed departures of Andrey Arshavin, Denilson and Sebastien Squillaci.
Other surplus players like strikers Nicklas Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh and Park Chu-young are all also expected to leave before the squad head out to Asia for a pre-season tour.
Bendtner, who was on loan at Juventus last season, revealed in the Danish press this week that he would make a decision on his future within two weeks after Arsenal agreed terms with five clubs for his services.