Unlike some of the big boys in the league, West Ham United have had a summer transfer window that could potentially change the dynamic of the football club in terms of what they could be fighting for in the years to come. The East London club managed to bring in some of the more familiar names in Europe in Angelo Ogbonna, Alex Song (on a permanent deal) and the most exciting of all, Dimitri Payet from Olympique Marseille for a measly €15m. Payet, one of the most in-form players not just in Ligue 1 in France but also in the whole of Europe, has so far proved that he can seamlessly translate his consistency and sheer match-winning quality into a league that is undeniably far more intense, exhaustive and competitive.
Here is a player that has debunked a cliched myth that even world class players would struggle to adapt in a new country in a new league. The 28-year old attacking midfielder has been central to everything good about West Ham United under Slaven Bilic. With him leading the front line West Ham have picked up some brilliant results in grounds where not many teams can go and even stand a chance of winning. Payet was the architect in the 0-2 victory at Arsenal followed by a demolition of Liverpool at Anfield. However, the icing on the cake was the narrow yet thoroughly deserved win at the Etihad against Manchester City.
His numbers, when compared to fellow teammates at West Ham, show how much of an influence he has had in the side in that they have now scored twenty-three goals in the league so far, and only league leaders Manchester City and Leicester City have managed more. The French international has scored five times in the league (highest), creating a staggering forty-six chances (highest) at least thirty more than anyone in the squad. His shot accuracy has been remarkable for an attacking midfielder, managing to direct more than 60% of his shots on goal and his conversion rate is equally impressive. His goals plus assists tally of 8 in 12 games can’t be stressed enough, not hiding the fact that the media would be raving had it been Manchester United or Liverpool enjoying his services.
Although these statistics reveal how much of an importance he holds in this free-scoring West Ham side, they paint a brighter picture when he’s compared to fellow play-makers in the top six.
Payet creates a boatload of chances every game. He might not have enough assists to his name, but it could be argued that assists often depend on the quality of the strikers playing in front of you. With all due respect to West Ham United, creating four chances per ninety minutes is an incredible feat given the fixtures they have had to play in these last twelve games. To have done that and sit where they do is a fantastic achievement for Slaven Bilic and his beloved Hammers and shows the more fluid attacking football they now play under the new manager.
His ankle injury that he suffered against Everton in the 1-1 stalemate at home, will sideline him for about three months, West Ham United will sorely miss a lot of good things but what they will really miss is his big game mentality; perhaps the key ingredient he has brought to the team, besides the obvious assists and goals. Dimitri Payet has instilled a belief in the side, that they can go to any stadium in England and beat them on their day, which was not the case in previous years in the Premier League.
In the victories against Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City, (all away from home), the twenty-eight year old managed to create two out of the seven goals they have scored. Add to that his immense contribution in pretty much every goal the Hammers have scored and you realize Slaven Bilic will be under a bit of pressure now to keep up the good results, especially away from Upton Park. One can only hope they come out of the other side of the door relatively unscathed.