West ham United, what a season they are having this year. Finished their last campaign sitting on 14th spot on the table under Sam Allardyce who eventually left the club after the club’s poor run of form. When Allardyce joined the club in 2011, West Ham were battling in the Championship. Despite being criticized due to his poor tactics that he used, he managed to gain promotion for the side and in their first season in premier league they finished 10th. Despite his contribution, he rarely managed to finish the campaign in the top half of the table and eventually, Allardyce left the club in 2015 after his contract was not renewed by the club and it was a sort of mutual consent.
Then, on 9th of June 2015, West Ham appointed their former defender Slaven Bilic as a manager on a three-year contract. At this period, the team needed some ins and outs so he wasted no time and departed some of his aging players namely- Stewart Downing, Matt Jarvis, Jussi Jääskeläinen and the flop of the club, Mauro Zarate (in the second half of the season). He had some targets in his mind and to achieve that he brought on some great names like Juventus’s defender Ogbonna, Fenerbahce’s striker Emenike, the Argentine Manuel Lanzini and most importantly he bought Dimitri Payet from Marseille in 15,00 Mill. €.
Under Bilic, West Ham had a great start to the season where they defeated the big guns like Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea and in all their victories, one man played a major role to ensure that they achieve the spot for the European competition.
We are talking about the French attacking midfielder, Dimitri Payet, who took the premier league by storm this season. As the leaders of the league, Leicester and Tottenham took all the praise for their extraordinary performance, West Ham United and Dimitri Payet were left somewhere in between of the clubs at the top and the clubs who had a very poor season. Payet’s performance was left unnoticed. In all of their performances against the top side, Payet had played a major role. Like, in their very first game against Arsenal, the goal scored by Cheikhou Kouyate was through a well taken free kick by the French star. The second goal against Chelsea it was Payet who set up the goal.
Most recently, in their encounter against Manchester United in the FA cup tie, Payet fired such a rocket that it beat De Gea and West Ham United were able to settle the game by 1-1. In their most recent game against Crystal Palace, the hammers took the lead through a sensational free-kick by Payet which got beyond Wayne Hennessey.
West Ham United are currently battling with the Manchester Clubs for the fourth spot. No wonder, Bilic deserve all the credits for that but, it is Payet who is leading an improbable assault this season. He has got pace, he has got the power, he has got the ability to beat the defenders and most importantly, he has got the vision to set up the attack and score the goal through a set piece. In recent times, the French star is recognized for his amazing free kicks. The one he scored against Manchester United was a sheer quality and the one he scored against Palace was unbelievable.
After coming into the squad, he immediately settled himself in the league by overpowering the defenders like Koscielny, Cahill, Kompany who had a great experience in playing in the Premier League. In his last season at Marseille, he created more chances than any other player in Europe, and that includes Lionel Messi. And this season, Only Mesut Ozil and Christian Eriksen have created more chances than Payet.
He has that arrogance and that artistic sense that can win matches. It was a pure gamble to sign this 28-year-old midfielder because sometimes, players won’t give the team what they expect and many even suggested that he has crossed his best years behind him. It could take a complete year for a player to settle down at the premier league as we have a live example of Memphis Depay who had a brilliant last season in the Dutch league but, is failing to cope with the pressure at EPL. But, as Payet stepped on to the field in his very first match, he had an assist to his name. Hammers boss Bilic said: “Twenty-eight, when we signed him, is a good age.” Payet is among the best in the business and is in a top run of form. Also, this season has earned him a reputation as a lethal dead-ball expert.
Payet this season has scored 9 goals for his side in his 24 appearances for the club and has an average shooting accuracy of 64% in which he has fired 23 shots on target till date. Also, he has created 88 chances for his team in which he has 8 assists to his name. He has been named as the man of the match 6 times this season and is a top contender for the individual awards at the end of the season. He also has an average passing accuracy of 81% where he has completed 824 passes. He has done quite a good job defensively as well as he has 58% of success in his direct take ons.
As Kane, Vardy and Lukaku are storming the headlines for being on the top scoring charts, this player has brought his team to a next level. As everyone will be talking about Anthony Martial, Kevin De Bruyne, Petr Cech for being the signing of the season, I can argue over that and can proudly say that this 28-year-old French midfielder has been the signing of this season’s premier league.
Stats taken from Squawka, prior to West Ham’s game vs Arsenal