As West Ham celebrate their opening day victory over Arsenal, the plaudits rightly centre around 16-year-old Reece Oxford for nullifying World Cup winning former Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil with relative ease. However, Hammers boss Slaven Bilic looks to have hit the nail on the head in bringing in French international Dimitri Payet this summer.
Arriving from Ligue 1 giants Olympique Marseille in a reported £10.7m deal, the 28-year old was simply sublime at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon, terrorising the Gunners. It was the debutant who assisted the first goal, though Petr Cech’s role in it may have been just as important.
It is perhaps puzzling that a path to a bigger team has not been paved for Payet. Last season, no player created more chances than the fantastic Frenchman in Europe’s top five leagues. With Kevin De Bruyne linked with a £46m move to free-spending Manchester City, the former Lille man matches highly pursued players his impressive assisting stats.
[ffc-gal cat=”west-ham” no=”5″]
Only Lionel Messi completed more through balls than West Ham’s new schemer, so it is clear the Hammers have quite a player on their hands.
Bang in the middle of his ‘prime’, the likes of City could do a lot worse than Payet, especially with links to Wolfsburg’s Chelsea reject De Bruyne in mind. The way the Frenchman performed at the Emirates, with his turn of pace and dazzling skills, was simply sublime.
A 93% passing accuracy, three crosses, two take-ons and an assist were the results of his first half in the Premier League. The rockets in his boots were on show as he outpaced England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and left the Arsenal man floored with a neat turn.
All of last season’s top six appeared to have problems breaking down their opposition during the opening weekend, while the brand-new Hammer ran riot in North London.
For a (relatively) meagre £10.7m, the East London club look to have picked up an excellent addition. Though his attacking play sent mouths watering, the 28-year old battled to win back possession with aplomb.
His pace can help start attacks from the back, and the French star has the end product to supply his strikers with ammunition-a-plenty.
Of course, there is still a long way to go over the course of the season. However, a man with his stats is a force to be reckoned with, and his debut performance showed little signs of needing an extended bedding in process.
Perhaps there are more glamorous names than Payet, but with all of the top six struggling to break behind enemy lines, few are more effective on paper. His performances on pitch are what matters, and if Sunday is anything to go by – the Hammers have hit the nail on the head.