Olivier Giroud has confirmed that he came "very close" to leaving Arsenal for Premier League rivals Everton during the summer transfer window, but believes he ultimately made the correct decision in choosing to remain at the Emirates Stadium.
A reduction in regular first-team starts coupled with the £46.5m ($61.2m) club-record arrival of compatriot Alexandre Lacazette led to persistent speculation that Giroud would end his five-year stint in north London, with Ligue 1 duo Lyon and Marseille and West Ham United all originally said to be battling for his signature.
Everton subsequently emerged as his most likely next destination in a deal worth approximately £25m with Ronald Koeman desperately attempting to fill the sizable void left by Romelu Lukaku's big-money departure to Manchester United.
Such a move never came to fruition, however, with Arsene Wenger revealing following a 4-3 defeat of Leicester City on the opening weekend of the new season that Giroud - a player for whom the manager still retains a great deal of affection - had opted to stay put despite being given the opportunity to leave.
The 31-year-old has spoken previously of just how close he came to bidding farewell to Arsenal in search of more frequent opportunities, explaining that he eventually chose to stick with the Gunners after discussing his situation with family and close friends. He later decided that his story at the club "was not finished" as he seeks to add to the two FA Cups and three Community Shields he has won since arriving in English football from Montpellier for a £12m fee back in 2012.
Expanding on that during a recent interview with French cable television channel Canal+, Giroud said: "I was very close to another English club, Everton. But I think I made the best choice."
Giroud has started just three matches across all competitions so far this term, with all seven of his Premier League appearances coming as a substitute. Aside from that dramatic late winner against Leicester in August, his only other goal to date in 2017-18 came from the penalty spot in a 4-2 Europa League defeat of BATE Borisov last month. That latter effort should live long in the memory given that it was his 100th in Arsenal colours.
Meanwhile, Everton's failure to include a dominant central striker as part of their otherwise ambitious £200m summer spending spree has been exacerbated by a hugely underwhelming start to the season in which they have scored just four goals in their opening seven top-flight matches.
The Toffees currently lie 16th with just two wins to their name and on the continent followed up a dismal defeat to Atalanta by conceding a late equaliser in a disappointing 2-2 home draw with Apollon Limassol.
Koeman will hope his side can muster a win away to newly-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion this weekend in order to ease the mounting pressure on his position.