Damien Comolli, former Tottenham Hotspur director of football, has revealed he was interested in bringing Dimitri Payet to White Hart Lane years before the France midfielder signed for West Ham United.
Comolli spent three years at Spurs until 2008, when he was sacked alongside head coach Juande Ramos, and says he left north London before a move for Payet could be finalised.
The West Ham star, 29, was nominated for the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award after a fabulous debut season in the Premier League last term, but Comolli said he had a verbal agreement in place with the player’s former club Saint-Etienne to bring him to Tottenham.
“When I was at Spurs the Saint-Etienne president telephoned me one day and said, ‘Listen, we’re on the point of signing this player, Dimitri Payet, from Nantes for €4 million,” Comolli told the Evening Standard.
“That was an enormous amount of money for Saint-Etienne. He said, ‘I wondered if you’d be interested in buying him for Tottenham in two years’ time for €10m.’
“I said ‘yes’. I didn’t think the player was ready at that point to play for Tottenham but I thought that after two years at Saint-Etienne he would be ready — so I said it was something that I’d be interested in.
“As I left Tottenham and ended up at Saint-Etienne it never materialised. But back then Payet was already a player that I liked a lot, having seen him when he was young at Nantes.”
After impressing at Nantes, Payet joined Saint-Etienne in 2007 and spent four years there, before moving to West Ham via Lille and Marseille in a £10.7m deal last summer.
Payet, one of the stars of Euro 2016 so far, is expected to start France’s round-of-16 match against the Republic of Ireland in Lille on Sunday (3 p.m. CEST/9 a.m. ET on ESPN).