Attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet’s return to the first team will give West Ham United a major boost, manager Slaven Bilic has said ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Watford. The 29-year-old had an impressive debut season in England, scoring 12 goals in all competitions since joining from Olympique Marseille in June 2016.
Payet, who has made just one appearance in the league so far in the 2016-17 season, was also joint second-top scorer at Euro 2016 with three goals and was named in the team of the tournament after helping France reach the final. “It is key for us if he can produce his best form again. He has the qualities that the best players have and can help change a game. They are influencing their team mates and opponents,” Bilic told the club’s website.
“He makes the team play better and everyone around him is benefiting. The team recognised that last season,” West Ham, who failed to make the Europa League group stage for the second year in a row after being eliminated by Astra Giurgiu last month, have managed only three points from their opening three Premier League games.
Payet had made it clear earlier that his immediate future lies with West Ham with the club pinning a 50 million pound price-tag on the French forward. He burst into the Premier League spotlight in the 2015-16 season when he scored nine goals and assisted many more for the Hammers. He became known for the devastating precision of his free-kicks and long shots. He was shortlisted for the PFA player’s player of the year 2016 which he lost out to Leicester City’s Riyadh Mahrez.