Payet, Saviour Again?
By Ashley Calver
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It all started quietly enough, on the 26th June 2015. A relatively unknown French winger to the casual football fan. To the more astute follower the almost £11million fee was a great piece of business by the Hammers, for a player who consistently ranked in the upper echelons of the assists chart and chance creation in Ligue 1. Although even the most researched and knowledgeable fan surely can’t have foreseen the impact Dmitri Payet would have.
In his debut season he took to the Premier League like John West took to Tuna, entertaining his own set of fans as well as every neutral that would sit on the edge of their seats or open their eyes and concentrate that little harder when Payet got on the ball. He walked or dribbled his way to West Ham Player of the Year and was shortlisted for PFA Players’ Player of the Year. All seemed like it could not get any better for the man born in Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean. That is until the European Champions in France in the summer of 2016, he was arguably his nationals best player and one of the stars of the tournament as he continued his league form of creating for his team as well as banging in the goals.
Fast forward to January 2017 and the fans who once adored Payet now hurl abuse at him, Traitor and Snake among some of the more polite names given to him. Slaven Bilic in a press conference tells the footballing world Dmitri Payet refuses to play for the club again, the only reason given is that he has requested a transfer. Payets’ reason does come out a few days later in what did seems like an attempt at putting a spin of the story and gaining sympathy by revealing he is homesick and wishes to return to France. It’s a reason that does ring true from a player who in that summer of 2015 actually never wanted to leave Marseille and his homeland, indeed the only reason he did leave was because of his former clubs money troubles and immediate need to raise funds.
Well I put it to you a different way, in the 2015/16 Dmitri Payet was West Hams shining light, the Irons hero, the Hammers saviour. Could the 2016/17 season be a repeat of that? The clubs form as well as his own has been inconsistent at very best this campaign, so surely the only way he and his manager could help West Ham is by doing something incredible off the pitch. A fabricated and very public story of a want-away player and determined manager taking a harsh stance for the good of their club and team-mates. Payet has almost saved their season again by an incredibly selfless act that knew would leave his relation and reputation in taters with supporters both his own and neutral. Since it was announce of this so called revolt by Dmitri West Ham’s form has catapulted them up the league to 10th, something that seemed far away before this ‘incident’. The players have galvanised, worked together, run tirelessly and looked an incredibly tough opposition for any side. The team has played their part in the turn around without doubt but without Payet doing a Chuck Norris and going AWOL the fans that have been the envy of many a club up and down the country are together as one. The move to the London Stadium hadn’t been a great success so far but now with the supporters in unison with the players, united in the common cause that we don’t need you Payet have the stadium rocking and if it had a roof it would be blown off by now.
So I urge all West Ham United fans, hail Dmitri Payet, this selfless little French genius is still your Shining Light, your Hero, your Saviour.