At the start of the season, West Ham paid £13 million for the services of Dimitri Payet, a move that was predicted to be one of the bargains of the season. Now, after a two month injury lay-off, Payet is back in the the Hammers' side, and ready to lead a push for the European places.
The Frenchman is certainly back with a bang, after scoring a brilliant free kick against Bournemouth on Tuesday - confirming he is ready to resume the form that earned him so many plaudits before his injury.
Last season at Marseille, Payet provided 17 assists, with only Cesc Fabregas, Kevin de Bruyne and Lionel Messi totalling more in Europe's top leagues. Considering the quality of players he was at the top of the list with, it was a huge surprise when the Frenchman ended up at West Ham.
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Considering that clubs are paying upwards of £20 million for unproven talent, at £13 million, Payet is looking like a real bargain. At 28-years-old, the midfielder is at a point where he is just reaching the peak of his talents.
The midfielder also fits in very well with the other attacking players that Slaven Bilic has played alongside him. With the likes of Diafra Sakho, Victor Moses and Mauro Zarate making up the front line at Upton Park, Payet is surrounded by players who have the pace and positional awareness to make the runs that allow him to pick them out.
Since Payet picked up his injury during the 1-1 draw at home to Everton on November 9, the Hammers’ season has somewhat stalled. They won just twice in eight games during his absence, with five of those games finishing level.
Payet has all the attributes and talent to open up defences that in his time out, West Ham could have desperately done with seeing as they often struggled to break teams down. Now he is back fit, it looks clear that the amount of goals the Hammers are scoring will increase.
Between now and the end of February, West Ham play only one team who are currently in the Premier League’s top ten. Last night's 3-1 victory has pushed them up the table to fifth and Bilic will see these games as a chance to secure their place in the top seven. This challenge will certainly be helped by the return of Payet.
Given that Payet is just the first in a long list of West Ham players to return from injury, when they have a fully fit squad, there is no reason why they can’t make it into a European place.
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