Last summer I could not believe my eyes when I saw that West Ham had signed French playmaker Dimitri Payet from Marseille for a fee reported to be in the region of £10.5million.
Having watched the French international impress consistently in Ligue One, I was shocked that no other Premier League clubs made a move for the attacking midfielder.
Impressing immensely this season
Payet’s quality has surprised many people in England. I believe the biggest surprise is that it took the playmaker so long to arrive at one of the bigger leagues in Europe. He had often been linked with moves to the Premier League, but he did not arrive in the English top-flight until he was 28.
West Ham fans would have been forgiven for googling the playmaker, as he did not seem to get the credit he deserved for his consistency over the last few seasons in France, especially his assists.
The former-Lille star has scored eight goals and produced nine assists this season, despite being sidelined by injury earlier this season. If he was an unknown to a lot of Premier League fans before, he is certainly not now.
His skill, vision and sheer ability to spot a pass has brought him back to the attention of French head coach Didier Deschamps, who praised the star after he helped Les Bleus to a 3-2 victory over the Netherlands on Friday night in Amsterdam.
Deschamps said of Payet after the game: “He confirmed with us what he has been doing with his club.
“Every time he touched the ball, he made something happen. He has enormous qualities and made a massive effort. He is on top form.”
The beauty of the beast that is West Ham
West Ham under Slaven Bilic have been one of the surprise packages of an extraordinary season and are currently fighting for a top four position. The Hammers are outsiders to claim a Champions League spot at odds of 11/2, but they are still in with a fighting chance of claiming a spot in Europe’s elite competition.
A big reason for that strong performance this season has been the form of Payet, who is the beauty of a beast of a West Ham side. Nobody likes playing against West Ham this season, because they seem to have a bit of everything in their side.
While the likes of Mark Noble and Cheick Kouyate provide the grit, Payet, along with Manuel Lanzini provide the artistry and beauty. Payet missed seven Premier League games through injury and was sorely missed. The Hammers scored just four goals in that period and struggled to pick-up wins, which shows you the importance of the former-Lille star to Bilic’s team.
Surely Payet must go to Euro 2016 with France?
Payet’s appearance for France on Friday night was his first since last June when he played for Les Bleus against Albania. It is incredible to think that he only has 16 caps for his country, despite producing relatively consistent performances for Marseille before his move to England.
Payet complained earlier this season about being ignored by Deschamps for French squads, but it now seems the playmaker is hard to ignore.
It seems that Payet is considered a luxury player by many in France, a player that does buy into a team ethic, but a lot of stars are like that and that is why they are stars. They do things differently and have the ability to win games with moments of magic.
These are the sorts of players who cannot be accommodated when they are not in form. However, Payet has been in top form this season and his performance in Amsterdam sent a message to Deschamps and his managerial team.
That message was that Dimitri Payet must be in that France squad for Euro 2016. It has taken him a while to get back into Didier Deschamps plans, but if the former-Marseille boss was announcing his squad tomorrow the West Ham playmaker would certainly be hard to ignore.
Should Dimitri Payet definitely be in the France Euro 2016 squad?