Dimitri Payet is not a particularly popular figure around east London nowadays, but once upon a time he was adored.
Objectively speaking, Dimitri Payet was one of the best footballers to grace the Premier League in recent years. Like, a proper talent. Someone who could make magic happen in an instance; goals, tricks, assists and skills – you name it, he could do it. Things you could barely imagine put into practice with admirable regulatory.
The Frenchman joined West Ham in 2015 from Ligue 1 side Marseille for an estimated £10million as one of the most revered playmaking talents the country had to offer, donning an impressive haul of 51 assists over a period of six seasons with St-Etienne, Lille and Les Olympiens (as per BBC Sport).
“I like attacking football and the fact they’re counting on me to help achieve that gives me a sense of responsibility,” he told BBC Sport.
Attacking football, as he so humbly admitted to enjoying, was exactly what he did best. Not for a long time had the West Ham faithful been exposed to such talent, yet here it was in the form of a squat Frenchman dazzling them one game at a time. Pace was not his game, nor was just about any other physically demanding aspect of the game, but he could work wonders with his feet.
Trademark finesse shots and ice cold lobs found their way into the oppositions net at an admirable rate (9) and were accompanied by absolute artistry in the creative department (12). But statistics only tell half the story. They do not reveal the terror felt by opposing fans when he stepped up to take a freekick within shooting range; those moments of regret experienced by players when they realise they have gifted him an angle to cross with pinpoint accuracy. And how could we forget that goal against Middlesbrough?
Ah, what a player. Shame he is a snake, though.
Payet left West Ham in 2017 a controversial figure with very, very few fans in the capital. He had refused to play citing “family problems” as the reason for his revolt – though it later transpired that he was simply “bored” with the football.
The one well thought of icon is now considered no better than dock muck inconveniently stuck in the grooves of Hammers fans shoes. And that is all we have to say about that.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience