West Ham midfielder Dimitri Payet’s artistry this season has inspired his boss to consider taking up poetry.
Hammers manager Slaven Bilic was left waxing lyrical about the 28-year-old’s latest masterful performance, following the 5-1 FA Cup win at Blackburn.
Payet scored twice and made another to help put his side into a quarter-final at Shrewsbury or Manchester United.
“I have to get poetry lessons to describe his importance to us,” said Croatian Bilic.
Frenchman Payet arrived at West Ham from Marseille in the summer in a deal worth in excess of £10m and has gone on to score eight goals and make nine assists in 25 games.
Such has his influence been on the club that he signed a new five-and-a-half-year deal earlier this month.
Against Rovers, he arced in a superb 25-yard free-kick to put the Hammers 2-1 up, played a perfectly flighted throughball to set-up Emmanuel Emenike and then dribbled from the halfway line before finishing to score his second.
As good as Modric?
It left pundits, fans and his own manager coming up with all sorts of praise, as Bilic drew comparisons with former Tottenham and current Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric.
“I haven’t seen better players than that. He is also doing the dirty work and on the ball he is up there with Luka Modric from the players I have trained so far,” said Bilic, who coached Modric at international level for Croatia.
“Dimitri is one of the best I have trained and every week I want these questions about him to continue, but it is hard to be surprised.”
A good day at the office
Dimitri Payet’s afternoon kicked into gear when he swung an inch-perfect free-kick into the net.
It was his second goal from a set-piece this season and it warranted a big hug with Big Slav.
With both teams down to 10 men and spaces opening up, Payet dropped in a beautifully weighted ball for Emenike to score his second goal on his full debut with five minutes remaining. Cue more hugging.
All that was just the pre-show. With time ticking away, Payet collected the ball just inside his own half and twisted a route all the way into the Rovers penalty area before firing into the corner.
The stats back up the impression that Payet has been unplayable at times this season:
- He has been involved in 17 goals in all competitions (nine assists, eight goals), more than twice as many as any other West Ham player.
- He has been fouled 33 times this season – only Mark Noble (47) and Cheikhou Kouyate (37) have been fouled more times for West Ham.
- He has created 69 chances in the Premier League this season – only Mesut Ozil and Christian Eriksen have created more.
Against Blackburn, Payet made six key passes – passes that lead to a shot on goal – and made 50 passes in the opposition half, more than anyone else on the pitch.
Rovers boss Paul Lambert said: “You know he’s got ability. The first goal is excellent. He’s lit up the Premier League.”
And BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson enjoyed what he saw: “I’m just delighted to witness Dimitri Payet.
“His display and brilliance is absolutely great. He runs quicker with the ball than without it and he seems to glide over the turf.”