Is Olivier Giroud questionably the most underrated player in English football, or is he just factually so? Sure, it's probably hard to categorically prove either way, but I'd reckon the latter, and I'll tell you why.
But first of all, several congratulations are in order. I will make these to Olivier directly.
Bonjour Olivier, comment ca va? Bien? What am I thinking, of course you're bien, you've just won the Europa League, the seventh major trophy of your career! Anyone to thank? Oh, Arsenal, you say? Well, I'm sure they'll appreciate the acknowledgement.
In any case, that's not all that you won. No siree. You also nabbed the competition's Golden Boot with your 11 goals from 15 games, the most of any player for an English club in major European competition since Alan Shearer in 2004/05 for Newcastle United, and the greatest total of any French player in European history, breaking the records of Nestor Combin from 1963/64 (Cup Winners' Cup) and Just Fontaine in 1958/59 (European Cup).
Yeah, the Just Fontaine that scored 13 goals at a single World Cup in 1958, a record that still stands. Yeah, the Just Fontaine that you sit three places above in the all-time goalscorers in French national team history. Yeah, Fontaine is sixth with 30 goals despite playing just 21 games, but who cares? The point is, you're better in almost every way, and you have the trophy cabinet and goalscoring resume to back that up.
You know who else you're comfortably better than? Messrs/Monsieurs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. You know, the two blokes who the Gunners spent a collective £108.5m on after selling you for a paltry £15m.
You know, the Gabonese striker who shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, but couldn't register a single shot on target in Baku and the Frenchman (but little used international - LOL) who, in the self-professed best season of his career, couldn't muster a single shot until the scoreline was 4-1. Yeah, those two.
In the same time, you forced an excellent save off Blues sleeper agent extraordinaire Petr Cech following a move that was mesmeric in its Sarriball-ness, slotted a sublime diving header past the spread-eagled keeper and somehow granted Eden Hazard a fairytale ending to his Chelsea career with one of the greatest passes in European final history.
That's right. All of that? You did that. Just like you did all of that facilitating for Didier Deschamps at last summer's World Cup. So, with all of this in mind, why do you think you're still underrated? Still the punch-line of so many unfounded jokes? I'll admit, I include myself in that bracket.
That's right, I wasn't above seeking a laugh at your expense, even in your finest (well, maybe second-finest) hour...
This was ill-advised and embarrassing and I'll never do it again. But, you know who had the last laugh? Your kind self. Seriously. Did we talk about the pass? That sumptuous, improbable, delectable, delicious moment of magic. And it summed you up. This whole game did. Because, as good as you are at those diving headers, those occasionally cute finishes, and those even cuter and even rarer scorpion kicks, you're better at bringing others into play.
And, for some, that's a poisoned chalice. That's a brush with which to tarnish you with, instead of admiringly polish. And that's fine, for some. That 'some' can do what they like. They're wrong to do it, but they can do it if it makes them feel better. It's weird, but it's fine.
Just so you know, you're not the only one. He who shall not be named (*cough* Karim Benzema *cough*) has also been besmirched by it at times. Is it a French thing? Who's to say. But it's a foolish thing, because it wrongly equates goals to success and vice-versa. As Aubameyang and Lacazette can now exhibit with wondrous glory, this is not always the case.
In the last calendar year, both players have scored a heap of goals (in line with this argument, I shall refuse to indulge with the actual total), but neither have won a single trophy. You've won two, one of which was the biggest prize of all, and reached one further final.
You've shown grit, determination, flair and flexibility. You've tasted success, you've tasted defeat. And through it all, you've offered Chelsea fans protection, a lot of love and affection, whether they're right or wrong...
I'm sorry, I've kept you far too long and you haven't said a word, Olivier. Well, anyway, thank you. Thank you for everything, and thank you Arsenal.
Ahh, that was nice. And you know why it was nice? Because Giroud is a great guy, on and off the pitch. From defending gay rights to taking the time out to talk, well, listen to us today, he's a class act.
But wait, wasn't I going to explain something earlier? Ah, never mind. Sometimes you have to let others do the talking. And, sometimes, those others happen to be the most underrated players in Premier League history.
Other times, they're just the blokes that believe them to be so.