Written by Rhys Paul.
As you are probably aware, Slaven Bilic has revealed that Dimitri Payet wants to leave West Ham United. For many, it simply confirmed what we already knew. The Dimitri Payet of 2016-17 is not even a shadow of the player he was the previous season, but the whole situation has embodied the club’s ongoing problems. He has looked increasingly disinterested on the pitch and he’s done little to excite fans since that rabona against Watford. Good will and memories of last season are a thing of the past, so it is perhaps fitting that Payet is the one who put the final nail in the coffin after playing such a big role in the success of the 2015-16 season. Where did it all go wrong?
In less than a year, Payet has gone from publicly stating that his future was at West Ham to refusing to train altogether in order to force a move from the club. In doing so, he has revealed his true colours. As a youth player at Le Havre, Payet was accused of lacking motivation and making life difficult for everyone else. That could easily be disregarded as inexperience and immaturity, but little has changed since. There are striking similarities to a situation that took place when the player was at Saint-Etienne. In that instance, Payet’s head was turned by PSG. Taking place in January as well, the Frenchmen refused to train and even travelled to the French capital in an attempt to speed up the process. In the end nothing came of it and the club subsequently punished Payet by demoting him to the reserves – much like what Bilic appears to have done. It’s remarkable that six years later, the player has not changed one bit. Even at Marseille, Payet and his agent went back on an agreement to renew his contract and it was this that paved the way for his move to West Ham. Ironically, it is his former club who seem the keenest to sign him.
When Payet was first signed for £10.75 million, he instantly lifted the squad. Everyone around him raised their game and the new signing looked particularly eager to get off to a good start. Believe it or not, he did use to track back in those first few months. His impact was unbelievable and whilst he never reached that level of consistency after his injury against Everton in November 2015, he was still one of the best players in the league during the second half of the season. He was rewarded with a five and a half year contract in February 2016 that ensured he earned up to a staggering £125,000 a week. It seemed the perfect match even before the contract was signed. It takes a special player to have the Hammers faithful singing your name and his relationship with Bilic seemed better than Noble’s with flat caps. His teammates, particularly the skipper, loved him and there was a feel good factor in the squad that has rarely been seen or heard of. He was finally recalled to French national team and played a starring role for them at Euro 2016, one that would have been unimaginable to the player a year earlier. It seemed like the summer transfer window would be the time when the player’s resolve would be tested, but despite rumoured interest from Real Madrid and PSG fizzling out, the club never seemed in any serious danger of losing of their star player.
For Payet, it simply comes down to one thing. When the going gets tough, Payet gets going. That was epitomised earlier in the season against Watford when Payet disappeared once the away side mounted a comeback. He has shown in the past that he is willing for jump from a ship, even if the ship is not quite sinking. Truthfully, it has been the equivalent of playing with ten men in recent weeks. Payet’s ability to pop up with an assist is unquestionable, but besides delivering one decent ball out of ten, he has brought very little to the team this season. There were those who were again chucking the ‘legend’ title out too prematurely, but it was the owners who were too quick to glorify the Frenchman. It simply goes to show that contracts mean nothing in the sport these days, but it is difficult to criticise the loyalty of a player who has never had any in the first place. The owners can be criticised for their failings in the transfer window and for turning this new chapter into a nightmare. However, Payet’s response has been inexcusable and unprofessional. Honoured alongside Billy Bonds and Bobby Moore at the new stadium, Payet risks becoming more associated with the likes of Jermain Defoe and Frank Lampard.
Good riddance for West Ham? What do you make of the Payet situation? Let us know in the comments below!
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