Player Profile - Dimitri Payet

Payet Taking The Hammers Above The Clouds

Personal information
Full name: Florent Dimitri Payet
Date of birth: 29 March 1987 
Age: 28
Place of birth: Saint-Pierre, RĂ©union
Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position: Attacking Midfielder

Club information
Current team: West Ham United
Number: 27

Youth career
1995–1998: Saint-Philippe
1998–1999: Saint-Pierroise
1999–2003: Le Havre
2003–2005: AS Excelsior

Senior career
2005–2007: Nantes 34 Appearances, 5 goals
2007–2011: St-Etienne 148 Appearances, 25 goals
2011–2013: Lille 94 Appearances, 19 goals
2013–2015: Marseille 83 Appearances, 15 goals
2015– West Ham United 26 Appearances, 10 goals  

National career
2007–2008: France U21 11 Appearances, 4 goals
2010– France 15 Appearances, 1 goal

West Ham have a lot of reasons to be happy at the moment. A new stadium is on the way, bringing with it a stack of cash as well as prestige; their manager is beloved by the fans and looks good in a Beanie hat; and they boast an over-performing squad which has the Champions League locked in its sights.  And the jewel set into the heart of that squad is the most precious asset of all - Dimitri Payet. The Frenchman has been a sensation all season, giving Man of the Match performances on a regular basis – winning the hearts of the bubble- blowing, die-hard West Ham faithful. 

Payet's season has been astonishing. It can take some players an entire year to adjust to the demands of the Premier League but he barely broke stride the minute he stepped on an English pitch. Payet doesn’t do tricks for the sake of it, everything is done with purpose. In terms of where the statistics really matter, the Frenchman has assisted seven and scored eight goals this season – more than any other West Ham player in both departments. Bilic has not exactly constructed a one-man team, but without him a top-four finish would surely be inconceivable.“He does things on the pitch that are lifting you out of your seat,” says Slaven Bilic about his star player, signed from Marseille for £10.5million in the summer. “He is a goalscorer, a very attractive player. He excites you with the way he is playing. This is what football is all about”. After Payet was injured against Everton in October, West Ham won only one of their next seven games, drawing with a dreadful Swansea and an even worse Aston Villa. Not coincidentally, they rediscovered their form immediately after the 28 year-old returned to the starting line-up – a 3-1 win away to Bournemouth was entirely inspired by a brilliant Payet performance – and have now won five of their last nine league games. He creates an average of 3.9 chances per match, second only to Ozil, in a team without the superstars of Arsenal. With Payet in the team Sakho becomes a real threat in the box, likewise Andy Carroll – and even Michail Antonio has been impressive. It is not because these players are performing out of their skin or even particularly on-form. Payet just makes them better. His ability to find them in the box means that any sort of clever run into the 18-yard area is usually rewarded with a delivery that can be turned into a goal. 

Payet will lead West Ham to the Olympic Stadium next season after signing a new contract to become the club’s top earner.  The France star joined on a five-year contract from Marseille last summer. Payet’s huge impact on the club has attracted interest from clubs within the Premier League as well as abroad, so West Ham were desperate to tie their main man down. With the Hammers determined to sell-out their new 54,000-seater stadium, Payet agreed a new £125,000-a-week deal to keep him at West Ham until 2021. The £50,000-a-week pay hike means he now earns more than Andy Carroll. And not only did he receive a new and improved contract, but Payet was named London Premier League Player of the Year shortly after. He was greatly rewarded by helping West Ham mount a surprise bid to break into the Premier League’s coveted top four spot. Currently in fifth position behind Manchester City, Payet has registered nine goals and eight assists in all competitions this season and that form was recognised at the 2016 London Football Awards. By taking one of the top awards available during the ceremony, Payet managed to beat some of the Premier League’s top performers this season. The Frenchman successfully saw off Harry Kane, Chelsea’s Willian, Watford striker Odion Ighalo and Arsenal’s assist king Mesut Ozil to the award. But beating Ozil was the big deal, and West Ham couldn’t resist a cheeky dig…tweeting: So it's official, @dimpayet17 is better than @MesutOzil. 

Now that absolutely everyone is aware of what he can do, teams tend to double up on Payet in an attempt to mark him out of the game but he solves that by roaming from his position, usually on the left or just behind the striker, dropping deep and picking up the ball. Opposition players do not know who’s supposed to go and tackle him and before they know it, he’s already found a teammate with an incisive through-ball. Only certain players are gifted creative freedom – Payet practically demands it. His vision for a pass is phenomenal. In his last season at Marseille he created more chances than any other player in Europe, and that includes Lionel Messi. But the best thing about Payet, more than the consistent assists and key contributions he provides, is that he genuinely gets fans out of their seats.