Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be hoping to remind Monaco what they missed out on, the Ligue 1 side having allowed the Dortmund forward to slip through their grasp during a loan spell in 2010/11.
This week’s UEFA Champions League showdown will stir up some unpleasant memories for the Gabonese international, who joined the Principality outfit while still an AC Milan player in summer 2010. Having already spent time on loan at Dijon and LOSC, Aubameyang travelled to the Stade Louis II eager to leave his mark.
“I want to make an impression at an important club that’s developed plenty of young players,” he said, agreeing a year-long deal that gave Monaco the option to make the switch permanent. “I’d really like Monaco to take up that option, which didn’t happen when I was at Lille. I hope it happens this year.”
Destiny decided otherwise, despite two goals in Aubameyang’s first four games. With Guy Lacombe at the helm, the then 21-year-old enjoyed the playing time he craved, but those early efforts would turn out to be his only strikes in a total of 23 matches, as he and the rest of his team-mates struggled.
Indeed, Lacombe departed after a shock French Cup loss to minnows Chambéry in January 2011, and Aubameyang was gone soon after. Left out of Monaco’s next two matches by new coach Laurent Banide, the forward departed just six months into his stay – penning a loan deal with St-Étienne, where he would eventually forge his reputation.
Monaco were relegated that season, while Aubameyang went on to register 37 goals in 87 Ligue 1 games over the next two and a half years with Les Verts, before rumours surfaced of a return to the Principality. “Monaco are the kind of club who’ll be doing something important in two or three years,” said Aubameyang’s father in June 2013. “That’s what I want for my son.”
Ultimately he joined Dortmund, and although he has not looked back, breaking the 20-goal barrier once again this term, Monaco have certainly emerged as a surprise European force. Coach Leonardo Jardim and his youthful line-up are now targeting a spot in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, but first they must get past that rarest of things – an exciting young talent they let slip through their grasp.