“We didn’t want to sell -player in question- but the offer was too good. We felt we’d offered him a substantial offer, but -insert club- came in with an offer the player, and us, couldn’t turn down.” – West Ham United for an untold number of years.
Flash forward to 2015, and, we find ourselves having completed a deal for French international Dimitri Payet – leaving his former club, Marseille, frustrated and having no option but to use that very line we’d all grown sick and tired of our club using.
The 28-year-old Frenchman comes to East London having had his best season of his career to date; scoring seven goals as well as notching 17 assists in 33 appearances for Marseille. However, more impressive was the fact that he created more goal scoring opportunities across Europe than players such as: Eden Hazard, Lionel Messi, Kevin De Bruyne and Cesc Fabregas. Not too bad an achievement by any stretch of the imagination, especially so, when the player in second place – Wolfsburg’s De Bruyne – was actually 23 chances behind Payet!
We could have done with a player of Payet’s capability and creativity in the second half of last season for example, when we were struggling to create, and even when we did, we more often than not fluffed our chances. Our main creative force was Downing in the first half of the season, but his form dropped off as did the whole XI’s. With Payet, we will be bringing in a player who set up a teammate every 23 minutes. Just let that one sink in. On average he would create four goal-scoring opportunities per game. From one player, that’s an incredible stat.
Another thing we rarely seem to do, let alone attempt, is long shots. There were only a handful of goals we scored from outside the box in open play, but, again Payet should change that too. He attempted the most shots from outside the box in Ligue 1 – with 58. I’d be impressed if our midfield had even attempted that many shots throughout the whole season regardless as to where from on the pitch!
There have been murmurs though, regarding the move. Is he right for the club? Is the fee justified? What about his attitude/his agents attitude? We need more creativity and goals, so yes. The fee isn’t all one lump sum, as has been pointed out, it is going to be heavily based on bonuses – so regardless of his age, the fee is not questionable in my opinion. The last of these questions being asked is the most worrying, he had indicated he wanted to stay at Marseille before his head was turned by more money – who’s to say after one season with us he have his head turned elsewhere?
All of these worries will no doubt be forgotten quicker than you can sing La Marseillaise should Payet replicate his form from last season. H was Marseille and Marcelo Biesla’s star man – but now – he could well be the star for West Ham and Slaven Bilić. Let’s hope that is to be the case.