If Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores for Borussia Dortmund against AS Monaco in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg, fans of the Ligue 1 leaders will no doubt harbour regrets... he could have been playing for them.

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Thanks to his own talent and the contacts of his father, a former pro himself, Aubameyang joined AC Milan aged 18 in 2007, and almost immediately headed back to France to join Dijon, then in the second division, on loan before heading to Ligue 1 side Lille to continue his footballing education.

His report card would have read 'Could do better' as he made only four starts and scored just twice in the 2009/10 season, failing to convince then-coach Rudi Garcia his qualities deserved a more central role in a side that boasted Gervinho and a precocious Eden Hazard in attack.

Watch: All of Aubameyang's pre-Goalmania goals this season

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Difficult start

With his career going nowhere, Aubameyang needed direction. Monaco, a principality known for its casino, was willing to take a gamble on the raw youngster, who was then still a long way from the glitz of the gem-encrusted boots and the clamour of an ecstatic Yellow Wall. His haircut was perhaps Aubameyang’s most star-like property back then.

"On a personal level, the boy was always nice, always had a smile on his face. At his age, a lot of people big themselves up. He too liked to be looked at, but on the pitch, he never stopped putting in an effort and he had a lot of friends in the dressing room," Guy Lacombe, Aubameyang's coach at Monaco, said.

"Some people at the club were taken aback by his appearance, especially when he started coming to training with an Audi R8 totally covered with the Louis Vuitton logo. But it only lasted a few weeks, just long enough for him to write it off when he aquaplaned!"

© imago / Joachim Bywaletz

'Up to me to work'

The move never really clicked into third gear, but at the start, Aubameyang was convinced he was now in the fast lane to establishing himself at the top level in France.

"It's an opportunity to sign for Monaco," the 21-year-old said at the time. "It's up to me to work. I want to establish myself. ASM are an important club that has brought through a number of young players."

Indeed they had, notably Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, and Aubameyang had good reason to believe he could flourish as Lacombe had brought through Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira and Werder Bremen legend Johan Micoud while they were in the embryonic stages of their careers at Cannes.

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Missed opportunity

Lacombe did give Aubameyang his chance, but unlike the clinical predator he has become, he did not take it.

Despite playing all 19 league matches in the first half of the season, he was soon replaced by Chu-Young Park in the starting line-up. Then-Monaco boss Laurent Banide surely still has nightmares about that decision.

Whilst Aubameyang left for AS Saint-Etienne and then on to the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts with Dortmund, Chu-Young went on to unsuccessful spells in England, Spain, Saudi Arabia and is now back in his native South Korea. Monaco’s loss was clearly Dortmund and the Bundesliga’s gain.

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