Au revoir West Ham star Payet - from messiah to pariah
PUBLISHED: 13:00 30 January 2017
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Our West Ham Correspondent examines Dimitri Payet’s time and legacy at the club
From messiah to pariah in a few short weeks that proved the lasting legacy for Dimitri Payet as he returned from where he came in a £25million deal with Marseille.
West Ham fans don’t forgive easily, just ask Frank Lampard, Jermain Defoe and Nigel Reo-Coker, but this latest parting of the ways seemed particularly hurtful.
It was like being dumped by that girl you thought was the one, it was like after declaring your love, the object of your affection turned round and laughed at you.
Perhaps he was out of West Ham’s league. From the moment he arrived and scored those two goals in the friendly at little Southend United, he was a star.
His skills were something we had not seen since the time of Paolo Di Canio, his free-kicks were like nothing since . . . well never.
We must not forget that we were privileged to see him live. When he scored those free-kicks at Manchester United and at home to Crystal Palace we couldn’t quite believe it.
Even this season we have been astounded by his goals. The free-kick to spare us extra time against Accrington Stanley, another free-kick at Liverpool and that quite remarkable dribble and goal against Middlesbrough.
But somehow all those golden moments, all those renditions of ‘We’ve got Payet’ have turned sour after the actions of the last couple of weeks.
He hurt the fans, he hurt Slaven Bilic and he just didn’t seem to understand.
And so it is bon voyage and good riddance to the most talented player the club have had in two decades.
He made 60 appearances, scored 15 goals as well as whole host of assists; his rabona cross for Michail Antonio was perhaps the best of all, although we all know how that game ended too!
He cost just £10.7million, a bargain in anybody’s book and full credit must go to Bilic for making him his top priority.
On his departure he made the club nearly £15m in profit, not bad for someone who will turn 30 in March.
Co-owner David Sullivan could not hide his annoyance at the turn of events.
“The club would like to place on record its sincere disappointment that Dimitri Payet did not show the same commitment and respect to West Ham that the club and fans showed him, particularly when it rewarded him with a lucrative new five-year deal only last year,” he said.
“I would like to make it clear that we have no financial need to sell our best players and that the decision to allow Payet to leave was in accordance with the wishes of the manager and the interests of squad unity.
“To be frank, my board and I would have preferred for him to have stayed, in order to make an example of him, as no player is bigger than the club.”
That sort of stand is commendable, but not realistic in this day and age. It is the players that have the power and there was little point in keeping a player who no longer wants to play for you and who is draining the club in terms of wages for nothing in return.
Perhaps West Ham fans should be thankful that they saw him in his pomp, that he put the club on the map on an international scale.
It will be difficult to see past the manner of his departure, but nothing ever really goes smoothly at West Ham.
Au revoir. C’est la Vie!