A product of the famed Clairefontaine academy in France, Jeremie Aliadiere was tipped for a bright future upon making the breakthrough at Arsenal. A lack of first-team opportunities in North London forced him to look elsewhere in 2007 and he has recently completed a three-year spell at Middlesbrough. Blessed with blistering pace and a keen eye for goal, he is able to operate through the middle as an out-and-out striker or on the flanks. He is a former French U21 international and has considerable experience of life in the Premier League.
Is it worrying being an out of contract player in the current climate or is that now part and parcel of a footballer's career?
To be honest, in all the time since I started playing, it's been something I have quite looked forward to. I would have liked, at one time in my career, to be a free agent because you choose where you want to go and on what kind of deal. You don't need to ask anyone where you can go, you just go. When you are at a club and you need to get transferred, that's obviously a lot different. You need to find out from the club how much they want for you and then there has to be negotiations between the two clubs. Now I have no-one to ask for advice, I can go where I want to go.
So you have been looking at the situation in a positive light?
I have been looking at it positively. I have, though, maybe got a free transfer at the wrong time, from the football economics point of view. Clubs are in debt and there are not a lot of transfers going on. People don't want to pay big money and big salaries, so it's difficult. It's obviously not a great situation to be in at the moment.
There are more and more players dropping into the free agent market every year, is that an issue the authorities need to address?
Yeah, of course. At some stage in a career everyone can become a free agent and have to look for another club. That's the way it has been for me. When I moved from Arsenal to Middlesbrough, I didn't think I was going to see out my contract. I had a three-year contract with the option for an extra year and to be honest I never thought Middlesbrough would take the option. I thought, if it works good, then I would get another move before that, or Middlesbrough will give me another deal. I never thought I would end up on a free transfer.
What was your mindset heading into the summer, were you just looking to sit tight?
That's exactly what I'm doing. I have got a few contacts in England and abroad and I am just waiting to see what will be the best thing for my family - for me, my wife and my daughter. I have been in England for a long time now and I would like to stay in England, I don't really fancy moving abroad.
England is your preferred option then, you don't fancy moving back to France?
No, not at the moment. I would prefer to stay in England. But it's difficult. You have to be patient, but at some stage you have to just sign somewhere. I need to get a club and play, so we will see what happens in the next few weeks. Hopefully I will get something that I am happy with.
Do you have any idea as to the standard you are aiming at and what level you would like to play?
Anything really, to be honest, as long as the club has ambition. I don't mind going into the Championship and joining a club that has ambition to be in the Premier League. Obviously I would like to play at the highest level possible. Every footballer wants to do that. There is the contract to sort out as well, and the money. I am not 20 anymore, I am 27 and I have got a family. You are not just playing for the pleasure anymore, you need to earn as much money as possible as well. You have to take everything into consideration and decide what is the best move for everyone concerned.
There are still a couple of weeks until the season starts, are you confident you will get something sorted?
I am confident that I will get something sorted. The only thing is, will it be my first choice or will it be my second choice? With this situation, it's difficult to say what is going to happen. Ideally I wanted to be with a club by now, because then I would have had a good pre-season and be playing games for a club. I don't want to go into a club too late, when the season has already started, I would like to go as soon as possible. I'm not going to rush into it, though, and just sign something for the sake of it. I should probably wait and the better things will come. Clubs will start thinking, we need to sign a striker and he's available, he's on a free. They can't spend much money, some of them, so that could work. Maybe there will be a lot of last-minute signings.
You have a decent CV, do you feel you have done enough to prove yourself to prospective employers?
You always want to prove yourself, but I have come through at Arsenal and I have played in the Premier League. I didn't have a great season last year, playing in the Championship, but I was injured a lot - I was out for about five months. You always worry then. I think, though, that if people like you as a player they will always like you, regardless of not playing for five months and not having a great season. You are still the same player, but some people will think differently. They will think 'you are a good player and we like you, but you didn't have a great season last year so we can't take a chance'. People think differently, but hopefully something good for me will come up. I want to start training and start playing.
Do you think that maybe a fresh challenge is what you need, given that things didn't turn out great at Middlesbrough towards the end?
I have said to a lot of people that Middlesbrough, at the time, was great for me, because being on the bench at Arsenal was difficult and I wanted to play every week and really show what I can do. That's what Middlesbrough gave me and I'm thankful to Gareth Southgate, he was always good to me and played me every week. But we got relegated, he got sacked, I got an injury, Gordon Strachan came in and there have been a lot of changes. The fact that we didn't go back up straight away, financially the club had to take a decision not to take up my contract. But I'm happy to move on and take on another challenge at another club.
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