After making his Premier League debut for West Ham United against Arsenal back in August, Dimitri Payet has lit up England’s top flight.
The attacking midfielder has driven the Hammers to the brink of European football with his superb form and, as there are with any talent from France, there are questions why Arsenal didn’t go in for him.
Speaking to the press on Thursday morning, Arsène Wenger explained that he’s been well aware of the French international’s talent for a while.
“I’ve known him for a long time. He played in Saint-Etienne, we watched him many times,” Wenger confessed.
Payet became an instant fan favourite at Upton Park and has been their best player all season. With 12 goals and eight assists in all competitions, he’s been the key to West Ham’s season and proven himself as one of the best and most dangerous players in the Premier League.
“I think he has all the attributes to be a top player. He is, in fact, but he’s 29 years old already and this season I think he’s matured a lot, he’s come back into the national team where he looked to be out so that shows he has been much more consistent.
“He always had top talent but periods where he was up and down.”
So why didn’t Arsenal make a move?
“I had these kinds of players. We always had a great number of creative players: Özil, Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey. I’ve forgotten a few, certainly, so we had the players.”
Wenger’s right. Nobody could’ve foreseen Payet’s instant success in England and the midfielder was already 28 last summer – it would’ve been an incredibly unlikely transfer for the Gunners to make. Last season the Frenchman was superb for Marseille but it was a surprise to see his first big season come when he was already approaching 30 and any transfer would’ve been a risk.
West Ham took that risk and it’s paid off – Payet is the star man in their side and the biggest threat to Arsenal’s hopes of winning this weekend.