The storyline is all to familiar in the world of soccer. A talented young star seems destined for a great career only to wake up and find that injuries, poor decisions, bad timing or a host of other reasons have robbed them of their most productive years.
Lorient's Jeremie Aliadiere has lived that storyline. A graduate of the famous Clairefontaine Academy, Aliadiere was brought to London by Arsene Wenger at the age of 16.
The young striker found himself at one of Europe's top clubs learning his craft from not only Wenger, but also from players like Bergkamp and Henry. It was an ideal situation for a player with Aliadiere's talent.
By age 18 he had made his Premier League debut. With plenty of time to continue his growth, Aliadiere was poised to be a fixture in the Arsenal lineup for years to come. Unfortunately those years played out much differently than expected.
Aliadiere did get the majority of his time on the pitch in League Cup matches. There he displayed his ability to find the net. The problem appeared to be a timing issue as Bergkamp and Henry were blocking the youngsters path to the lineup.
As if competing with those two legends was not enough, Aliadiere began to fight through a rash of injuries. In order to get him first team experience, Wenger loaned the Frenchman out to Celtic, West Ham and Wolverhampton.
Injuries continued to follow, and Aliadiere was eventually sold to Middlesbrough in 2007. The tactical style was not a fit for Aliadiere, and he struggled through three less-than-stellar seasons, at times even suffering through the boos of the home fans.
In 2010 after leaving Middlesbrough, he tore ligaments in his knee while with West Ham in a reserve game against Crystal Palace. In 2011, he returned to Arsenal to train in an attempt to regain fitness.
That summer, he was signed by Lorient on a deal that included options for extending the contract. In 19 appearances for Lorient in League and Cup competition, Aliadiere scored four goals. His play earned him a new three-year deal with Lorient.
Armed with the confidence from a long-term deal, Aliadiere has been making up for lost time this season. He has scored nine goals and added six assists in 21 games.
With Aliadiere accounting for most of Lorient's offensive output, the French club is currently sitting in ninth place in Ligue 1, only three points behind fourth place Bourdeaux.
Aliadiere recently discussed his career revival in an interview with Ligue1.com (Part 1 of interview, Part 2 of interview). In it he discussed the coaches, the rumors of Wenger helping him get to Lorient and coming back from injuries.
Aliadiere is finally showing his wares over a large sample of games. He has become the type of player those who followed him knew he could be.
His hard work and relentless drive to overcome the obstacles laid before him has gotten him to the point he is now, the leading man on a competitive squad in a top-tier league. He has finally found himself a home.
It has not gone according to script, but Aliadiere did not give up and continued to write his story. Fans of Lorient and Ligue 1 are the ones reaping the benefits.
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