Rewind to January last year, Dimitri Payet is in East London holding one of England’s most famous clubs hostage. After declaring his intention to leave West Ham United, Payet then began to miss training sessions. And with the Frenchman’s clear show of disrespect, Slaven Bilić had no choice but to sell him back to his hometown club, Marseille.
Fast forward a year and a half, West Ham’s best player of recent times may be set to make a miraculous comeback. Reports this week suggest that the French club is experiencing financial problems and do not have the funds to sustain Payet’s contract. The best solution for them is to sell 31-year-old back to his second home, West Ham. This transfer makes even more sense when you consider the fact that Manuel Lanzini will not be setting foot on a pitch for all of next season.
New Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini is leading somewhat of a revolution at the Olympic Stadium. In addition to the signings of Issa Diop, Łukasz Fabiański & Ryan Fredericks, deals are being worked on for Jack Wilshere, Felipe Anderson & Andriy Yarmolenko, clearly showing the intent of the former Premier League winner. It’s clear that Pellegrini is looking to revive West Ham’s European ambitions.
Last season the Hammers disappointingly finished 13th, 12 points off the European places. A club of West Ham’s stature deserves and needs to be playing European football. In their history, the Hammers have played 52 games in Europe, winning 25 of them. Dimitri Payet is the man to take West Ham back to their rightful place amongst Europe’s best.
It was through the brilliance of the 31-year-old that took his current club Marseille to the 2018 Europa League final. Throughout the course of last season, in 45 appearances Payet scored 10 goals and produced 20 assists. On average, Dimitri Payet created 3.7 chances per game whilst maintaining an 80% passing accuracy.
He literally dragged his teammates to the Europa League final, only to be taken off due to injury and with that, Atletico Madrid was able to run out 3-0 winners. Without that injury, Payet would have been a starter for Didier Deschamps’ French world cup team.
Dimitri Payet has the ability to play either as a #10 or in the box-to-box role in a midfield three. Perhaps in the latter days of his career, he’ll move to an even deeper role as holding midfielder. Seeing as he has an exceptional passing range, that’ll be a natural transition for the Frenchman.
In a footballing sense, the signing of Dimitri Payet is too good to turn down. On his day, he has the ability to produce world-class performances that can turn games on their head. The only sticking point to this ordeal is whether the Hammers fans will take the Frenchman back or not. Upon his departure, Hammers fans were very vocal in their displeasure over his attitude and the way he treated the club. But if it means getting back into Europe, West Ham would welcome the return of Dimitri Payet with open arms.