Arsenal forward and one-time Everton target Olivier Giroud insists he did not "refuse" a transfer to Marseille but says returning to France was "not an option" for him this summer despite falling further down the pecking order in north London.
Giroud, 30, has started all of the Gunners' opening three league matches on the substitutes' bench and is seemingly behind new signing Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck in the eyes of manager Arsene Wenger, who gave his compatriot the chance to leave for pastures new this summer.
The former Montpellier hitman had a number of clubs keen on his services, with Everton, West Ham United and Borussia Dortmund all credited with an interest at various points of the transfer window.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman had identified the Arsenal hitman as one of his top striking targets after losing Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United but failed to prise the France international away from the capital.
The Dutchman is still on the lookout for a strong target man with just three days of the transfer window remaining.
Along with Everton et al, Giroud also attracted interest from Ligue 1 outfits Marseille and Lyon. L'OM were reportedly hopeful of thrashing out a £25m ($32.3m) deal for the Frenchman earlier this summer, but Giroud simply did not view a return to France as an option at this stage in his career.
"I did not refuse Marseille," Giroud told Telefoot. "I simply said to the boss when I was on the phone with him... He wanted to know if I was interested or not in the Marseille project. I have always said that returning to France was not an option for me, even less so in the short-term future.
"So it was not something against Marseille, because the project is very ambitious and very interesting... It was not specifically about Marseille, because I also had Lyon. I am very flattered to have been chased by two great French clubs."
"I had offers this summer, but I chose to stay at Arsenal. I want to fight."
Giroud may have discounted a return to France as an option for now, but he may have to consider a move away from Arsenal between now and the end of the transfer window if he has designs on leading the line for his country at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Giroud is currently Didier Deschamps' first-choice to spearhead Les Bleus' attack, but the France boss may have to consider other options if Giroud endures another sporadic campaign in north London.