Dimitri Payet’s form at West Ham has been nothing short of a true revelation, and it comes as a huge delight to the Hammers fans. His indomitable prowess on the ball means that coffee-house tricks are often at display on the Boleyn Ground, with cheers every time a move comes off successfully.
What factors have led to him blossoming so late in his career? No one truly knows why, as the player who is set to turn 29 on the 29th of this month is quite a special case. Some suggest that this is really just a one-season heroics sort of thing, similar to the one Aritz Aduriz is having at Bilbao; though his heroics are at a different level entirely since he is 7 years older than the former.
Payet spent six seasons in France, playing during that time for Saint-Etienne, Lille, and Marseille respectively. While he showed occasional signs of brilliance at all of these French clubs, he didn’t produce his magic consistently enough. This resulted in him being touted as a budget player, someone who can give you the cutting edge on occasions if you are on a limited budget.
Though he didn’t particularly have a breakout season as mentioned, his last year at Marseille was very impressive in its making. He notched 16 assists during that season in Ligue 1 and helped the club finish in the top 4. His, from a scout’s perspective, stark, rise in form grabbed the attention of Europe’s top clubs, but none were ready to go all the way since they thought he would just be a ‘one-season wonder’, particularly this late in his career.
West Ham took the gamble, as it was either going to be a bargain deal or a forgettable loss for the west London club. West Ham acquired him for a record £12 million, the same amount they paid for Enner Valencia a season ago.
The French attacker’s value has tripled, and it is set to increase even further come the end of the season, should more clubs get interested in his services.
While he has been a masterclass in midfield for West Ham, there is the nagging feeling that he could’ve been even better had he blossomed a little earlier in his career. Why he didn’t is a question that only he can answer, and even then there will be some grey area to ponder over.
Payet has already got 7 assists by his name so far in the Premier League, along with 8 goals. His dead ball ingeniousness from free-kicks is as good as anyone in the world right now, spare the little Argentinean at Barcelona. Just watching him play brings a sheer joy to hearts of neutrals, as he possesses a technical prowess that is severely lacking from the modern game, especially from Europeans.