'Make or break' for Aliadiÿre

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has warned the former France Under-21 international striker Jérémie Aliadière that he is facing "make-or-break time" in his career at the club.

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has warned the former France Under-21 international striker Jérémie Aliadière that he is facing "make-or-break time" in his career at the club.

Aliadière has indicated he will return to Paris if he does not win a regular place at Highbury, but Wenger believes the forward must prove himself before the end of this season.

Aliadière's quality is not in question, with Wenger a consistent admirer of a player whom he has brought through the youth system since he signed for Arsenal in 1999. Instead, the Frenchman's fitness is in doubt, as he has played just 15 minutes of first-team football in two brief substitute appearances this season.

Aliadière, who was ruled out for most of the season with a serious knee injury sustained in the FA Community Shield against Manchester United in August, suffered a fresh injury on his return. However, he scored twice for the reserves in their 4-0 win against Norwich on Monday and is hoping to be back in the first-team squad before the FA Cup semi-final against Blackburn on 16 April.

But Wenger revealed: "Jérémie said that if he doesn't make it here, he wants to go back to Paris. I can completely understand that as it's make-or-break time for him now. He's been here for such a long time and he's now becoming impatient as he needs to play. If he doesn't play for us, he has to try somewhere else to play.

"I believe in him," Wenger insisted, "but every time he has come back from injury, he has got injured again. After a while, it's frustrating for him and us."

Even if fully fit, Aliadière faces a battle to establish himself at Highbury. As well as Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Jose Antonio Reyes, there is competition for places up front from the teenagers Arturo Lupoli and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, plus Robin van Persie.

Aliadière admitted he would like to join Paris St-Germain if Wenger decides the striker is no longer part of his plans. "Everyone knows that I love PSG, this is my club," he said. "There is a contact between PSG's sporting director Alain Roche and my agent," Aliadière admitted. "For now Roche said nothing could happen as they don't know yet who will be coaching PSG next season.

"Everything will depend on Arsène Wenger. I don't really want to leave Arsenal and my priority is to re-sign with them, but if this does not happen I really would like to join PSG.

"There are quite a lot of other teams who have expressed an interest including PSV Eindhoven and Ajax Amsterdam," he added. "All I want is to play regularly and prove to myself that I can play at a very high level from the start to the end of a season."

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