Last summer, a football club in London bought a player who they believed would add depth and immense talent to their midfield, and they got him for a reasonable fee.
This player came from French side Marseille, a team that floats below PSG in Ligue 1 every year, just like everyone else. It didn’t seem like this player had too much influence on his team’s success (or lack thereof), and it was agreed that £10.7m would transfer his services across the English Channel.
As you may know, the London club is West Ham United (located in Upton Park in East London, as a matter of fact) and the player is Dimitri Payet, a free-kick specialist who has blasted the ball past the keeper 5 times from free-kicks since January. Yeah, that’s pretty good.
So good in fact, Payet hasn’t practiced taking free-kicks since the first one he made this year, in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth. That’s something Zlatan Ibrahimovic would do, only he doesn’t. Dimitri has been on another level all year, and his confidence is clearly at a height near Zlatan’s, the man with the biggest ego on the planet.
Each free-kick that he’s bagged this year has been a wonder, and when you see them you understand why the keepers never stood a chance. The spin he puts on the ball is filthy, nasty, roll off the table kind of stuff, like a Barry Zito curveball circa 2003. His latest free-kick against Crystal Palace soared like it would clear the goal, and the goalie sure seemed to think he was safe; suddenly, the ball changed course within feet of the goal and dropped just below the bar, and the keeper was left helpless as Payet ran off, celebrating.
Here is another view, taken from a fan’s perspective:
Payet is so sure of himself that he even celebrates before the ball goes in, just check out this incredible free-kick against Manchester United (sorry for the poor sound quality, and skip to 14 seconds in ).
Totaling 13 goals and 11 assists including his international duties with France, 29 year old Payet has proved to be worth much more than his transfer fee belies. The Hammers are having a stellar campaign this year, as they sit in 6th but only 3 points off the last Champions League spot, which is currently occupied by Man City, and it’s clear that Payet’s efforts have had a positive effect on his club’s season.
Surely, it’s had an increased effect on his value, but let’s see if he’s got other goals in mind than getting paid.