Dimitri Payet is a player that has single-handedly grabbed the headlines for West Ham this season.
After signing for an eight-figure sum in the future (believed to be £10.7million), a lot of football fans presumed he may be another Remy Cabella – just another Frenchman destined to leave the Premier League after a fruitless stint.
Let’s be honest – Payet could be so much better than he is already. He’s had spells at Lille and Marseille in more recent years in his career and has been good. But he has been waiting on the cusp for a side to come in and offer him the opportunity to play at the level he needs and West Ham have provided that and by god has he repaid the favour.
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He was single-handedly the best player on the pitch as West Ham got a comfortable 2-2 draw against Manchester City last week. They could, and probably should have won the game and Payet was the star man, even amongst Manchester City’s £250m pool of talent.
How the Hammers managed to sign Payet for such a coup is still beyond many football fans. To put it simply, City signed Kevin De Bruyne for over five times that amount – talk about a bargain.
David Silva no longer has the same influence on Manchester City as he did two years ago and Payet looks like the Spaniard of young, he really does.
Regardless of money, Payet’s talent really does speak for itself. He’s blessed with an elite touch, fantastic vision and effortless trickery. He also has a massive effect on the rest of the team. Mark Noble looks five years younger again and even Alex Song has looked like an attacking player at times this season – we’ve never seen that in his career before.
But that is not all that’s in his game. He gets back and does the dirty work too and against Manchester City, we saw him tracking back and helping young Sam Byram on his debut- true professionalism.
At only 28-years-old, Payet arguably still has four or five years left at the top. With the Hammers sitting in sixth in the Premier League (and comfortably too), a lot of this can come down to the form of Dimitri Payet.
When he went injured for a couple of months, West Ham really did miss him but they looked good at times in their own right too. This only shows how well Slaven Bilic has done – bringing in and creating a squad out of good players that don’t rely on the trickery of Payet all of the time.
But he is their star man and they must protect him. They must protect him from injury and the undoubtable transfer interest that will come by having one of the Premier League’s most in-form players.
At the end of the Manchester City game, Payet went over to the raucous West Ham support, patted the club crest and bowed to the fans.
They duly bowed back to their new Boleyn Ground hero.