Manchester United spent £30 million on Memphis Depay, Manchester City signed Raheem Sterling for £49 million, and Liverpool paid £32 million for the services of Christian Benteke. Very few of the Premier League’s big money purchases during the 2015 summer transfer window have paid off. Dimitri Payet cost West Ham just £13 million when he joined from Marseille, and he has been by far the best of the bunch.
Very few players have had the same influence on a team that Payet has had on the Hammers. Only Lionel Messi, Kevin de Bruyne and Cesc Fabregas provided more assists than the Frenchman’s 17 last season, and had it not been for a knee injury, he would certainly have come close to matching that tally this time around.
Payet has bought with him a new style of football to Upton Park, with him and fellow attacking midfielder Manuel Lanzini providing a faster, more slick brand of play. This has obviously been helped by the appointment of ex-Hammer player Slaven Bilic as manager, a man who clearly favours the more attacking style of football.
However, West Ham’s gain has come at a cost to many other of the Premier League’s top clubs. Many of these invest vast amounts of money in their scouting networks and their ability to pick out some of Europe’s lesser known, but exceptionally talent players. All but West Ham however, seem to have overlooked the supreme talent that is Payet.
The 28-year-old was one of the top attacking midfielders in Europe last season, and the failure for the Premier League’s top clubs to recognise this must be considered a failure. His age shouldn’t have been a problem with the quality that he has, but if rumours are to be believed, Newcastle turned him down because they felt he was too old. There is a good chance they wouldn’t be in the relegation zone if they’d signed him.
The Frenchman displayed his immense range of talents against Manchester United at the weekend, when his magnificent free kick beat David de Gea from range. This isn’t the first time Payet has found the net from the dead ball, but it was perhaps the best of his 11 goals for West Ham this season.
The failure to identify Payet as a player worth signing will haunt Premier League scouts, with the man at times compared to Hammers’ legend Paulo di Canio leading his side to fifth in the Premier League. He seems likely to be the only one of the attacking players signed at the start of the season to be nominated for the PFA Player of the Year Award.