Dimitri Payet may have possibly been the best purchase of the 2015/2016 season. Outside of Ligue 1, a relatively unknown player, he made a £10.7 million move to the Premier League. In his final season at Marseille his stats spoke for themselves, 7 goals, and a massive 16 assists, he was moved into the number 10 role and flourished. However, it was always a risk for West Ham to spend that kind of money on a player who’s only experience is playing in Ligue 1. It may be insulting to say, but it is a lesser league than the Premier League, and has been dominated by big spending PSG, so regardless of his stats, he was still a risk.
The risk paid off, massively. Payet hit the ground running in the Premier League and carried on his rich vein of form. Providing 12 assists and scoring 9 goals in the league, including some beautifully taken free kicks, and a nomination for the PFA Player of the year. A master of dead ball situations, and turning heads all over the country. West Ham became a team that weren’t so easily beaten anymore. Finishing 7th in their final league season at the Boleyn Ground ahead of their huge move to the Olympic Stadium. The only way looked up.
Enter Euro 2016. Having earned a recall to the French International set up in March 2016 Payet wasted no time making himself an integral part of the French team. Scoring 3 goals on route to the final it was no shock to hear rumours of Real Madrid and PSG sniffing around trying to get the Frenchman.
West Ham showed ambition to keep their star man. They had a new stadium, he had commited to a new contract mid season putting him on £125,000 a week, and a club on the rise. Maybe his head might have been slightly turned, but he returned to his club nonetheless. But it’s been a poor campaign this season thus far for West Ham, a 5-1 loss at home to Arsenal, and falling out of the FA Cup in the 3rd round to a humiliating 5-0 defeat to Manchester City in the first FA Cup in the Olympic Stadium, and collapsing in the first qualifying round of the Europa League have been just some of the low points experienced in their new home.
Now the transfer window is open, and Payet has informed the club he no longer wants to play for them. Considering where he was only 2 years ago, and the faith the club have invested in him with his new sizable wage is he wrong to think he could move onto bigger and better things?
In most cases you would say yes, no player is bigger than their club, and he committed to his new contract, he should return the commitment made in him. The story has drawn a mixed reaction on social media.
If Payet don’t wanna play THROW him out! NO PLAYER is bigger than the club they play for! Football winds me up at times! #DontPlayDontPay
— Tony Bellew (@TonyBellew) January 12, 2017
Why people shocked Payet wants away? They signed a load of rubbish. Bilic says they gave Payet everything…except a decent team to play in.
— talkSPORTDrive (@talkSPORTDrive) January 12, 2017
Payet: I don’t want to play for West Ham
Bilic: Yeah, well… you won’t be considered for selection until your attitude changes
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) January 12, 2017
But this looks to be different. West Ham for the past two transfers windows have been nothing short of weak, with ex players such as Dean Ashton calling their conduct “embarrassing”, and it’s hard to describe it any other way. After the summer they tried to match Payets ambitions, making bids of £40m for Lacazette, at the start of the window they looked like a club attempting to try and break into the top 4, and wanted the players to meet that task. But as the window went on, the transfers never materialised and they were forced to settle for more menial players than they would have wished for.
Zaza is a key example of where they fell down. An extremely average player, who is more than known for his penalty run up, which he subsequently missed, in Euro 2016 than of any actual ability. An instead of gambling on this player with by purchasing him outright, or agreeing a season long loan deal, they’ve tied themselves up in a confusing deal where they have to pay a fee if he plays so many games for them, and as could have been predicted he has been an extremely poor piece of business.
The key has been how public they have been with their business, clubs know they are desperate for attackers, probably how Swansea were able to get near £20m for Andre Ayew in the summer, and probably the reason why Brentford are not allowing Hogan to leave on the cheap. There is something wrong when a Championship club have got you by the throat for an player untested at the top level, and want at least £15 million before they entertain the idea of the sale. And making offers for the likes of Defoe and Snodgrass will show a player of Payets quality that this is no longer a team making positive strides towards a glorious future, it’s a team bidding blindly out of nothing more than sheer desperation to avoid being caught up in a relegation battle.
At 29 years old, Payet will know he is at his career peak, if a big move is ever going to happen then it has to happen now. West Ham clearly aren’t going to be competing near the top of the table anytime soon, and if someone was to come knocking at his door with the promise of Champions League football, and potential silverware then why would he want to stay.
West Ham are more likely to let him rot in the reserves, than to let him get his way. But in many ways Payte is right, and a club like West Ham can’t allow themselves to have a player of his capability not playing. A bid of £30m should be more than enough to allow him a move, and free up some funds for the club to go out an add two or three players to their squad.