Serie A

LA-bound Giroud’s leadership will be missed, says Milan captain

LA-bound Giroud's leadership will be missed, says Milan captain

LA-bound Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring against Salernitana on Saturday (MARCO BERTORELLO)

AC Milan captain Davide Calabria said on Wednesday that the departure of Olivier Giroud to Major League Soccer will leave a leadership hole at the seven-time European champions.

Veteran French striker Giroud will play his final match for Milan in a post-season friendly against Roma in Perth on Friday in front of an expected crowd of 50,000 at the Optus Stadium.

The 37-year-old is heading to Los Angeles FC next season and will bow out of international football for France after the Euros, which begin in Germany next month.

Giroud was given an emotional farewell by the Milan fans as he signed off from Serie A with a goal in a 3-3 draw with Salernitana on Saturday.

American midfielder Christian Pulisic and winger Rafael Leao are missing from Milan's tour squad but Giroud has made the long journey to Australia.

"He's an important leader on-and-off the field … particularly off the field," Calabria told reporters in Perth on Wednesday.

"He's supported me a lot. I'll miss him a lot, but am happy to have these few days together to celebrate his departure."

Giroud was a fan favourite at the San Siro and his three-year stint will be largely remembered for scoring key goals in Milan's 2022 Serie A triumph, the only trophy he won at the Italian club.

Giroud is not the only departure at Milan, who are looking for a new coach after coming second in Serie A but failing to mount a serious challenge to fierce rivals Inter Milan.

Stefano Pioli, who had one year remaining on his contract, left at the end of the Serie A campaign after four-and-a-half years in charge.

Reports said he will be replaced by Lille coach Paulo Fonseca, who has also been linked with Marseille.

"I don't know anything … we'll see," Calabria said when asked by AFP if he expected Fonseca to take the reins.

Assistant coach Daniele Bonera will take charge in Perth, but he had been earmarked to coach the under-23s next season.

Roma, who finished sixth in the Serie A, will be without several star players, including on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku who is reportedly set to return to his parent club Chelsea.

tl/dh

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