Dimitri Payet and Arsenal

With Dimitri Payet on his way out of West Ham, a lot of Arsenal fans have been discussing throughout social media whether the club should target him. A lot are saying he is a no brainer, whilst many think we should stay well clear. Here are some thoughts…

A Short Term Option?

Dimitri Payet is 30 in March. Signing him would be a short term option. A lot of people will point to the fact that Santi Cazorla and Ian Wright came to Arsenal late, but Cazorla joined Arsenal just shy of his 28th birthday, he was more than 2 years younger than Payet.

Likewise Ian Wright – often held up as the proof that players can succeed having made a big move late in their career – was also just 27 when he joined Arsenal.

Getting in a 29 (nearly 30) year old Dimitri Payet would mean Arsenal writing off his transfer fee (as we would unlikely make anything selling him on) and also potentially tying up a lot of wages (4 years at £120,000 is £25,000,000) In a player who in 18 months time might not be the quality player he is now.

Would it be worthwhile tying up that money on a short term option?

Why Would Arsenal Sign Payet?

Payet is a brilliant (but inconsistent) player. There are a good few reasons why it would be worthwhile Arsenal signing him, even if it is just to have him at a high level of performances for the next 18 months:

  • Champions League – He is not Champions League tied. Probably the best player in world football that has not played Champions League football this season. Hence why he has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid and PSG
  • Premier League – Back in 2004, Arsenal signed Jose Antonio Reyes. He performed well for the club for 18 months before going a bit loopy. But in those 18 months, and especially in the first 6 of those, his freshness and ability pushed Arsenal to another level that saw the side go unbeaten. Payet in January could push Arsenal to the Premier League title (or Champions League!)
  • Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil – As it stands, both are in contract dispute. By getting Payet it, Arsenal would then have already signed a short term replacement for one of them were either to leave. Signing Payet now would take the pressure off the summer transfer window. And if both sign? Payet simply makes us stronger
  • Solving the wide issues – With Sanchez playing up top and Walcott injured, Arsenal lack wingers. Hence Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain & Ramsey playing wide in recent weeks. Payet is better than all 3 and even when Walcott returns, Payet would still start

Fitness & Attitude

The two biggest reasons not to sign Dimitri Payet are his fitness and his attitude.

If we are talking about Payet as a short term option, we would expect him to perform for the club immediately. But he looks a little over weight. A lot off the pace. It might take him a few months to get git. At which point 2016/17 is over.

Secondly his attitude with West Ham has been shocking. And this is not a new thing. One of the key reasons he has never made it at a big club previously was due to a poor attitude. It took his exceptional 2015/16 form for Didier Deschamps to over look the poor attitude and give him a regular chance for France.

Arsene Wenger has previously shown an intolerance to players with a poor attitude, Samir Nasri springs to mind. Is the divisions Payet could cause within the squad worth his talent?

Santi Cazorla Comparison

A lot have grouped Payet and Cazorla together. Mainly because they are both diminutive 2 footed playmakers who saw their best performances materialise at a later age. But it is wrong to compare them.

Cazorla saw his performances peak when he played deeper. When you play deeper, you need some sort of defensive awareness, and the willingness to put a foot in occasionally. Cazorla adapted his game and started to do some defensive work. The same can not be expected of Payet.

Payet is more similar to Ozil than Cazorla. Talented playmaker but lazy defensively. Any West Ham fan will tell you that for all his excellence going forward last season, he would not track his full back. Putting him deeper in the middle of the park would leave us exposed as he simple would not provide us with any sort of defensive cover.

Payet is not the same player as Santi Cazorla.


The New Andrei Arshavin?

If Payet is not a Cazorla clone, what player does he remind me of? The closest I can think of is Andrei Arshavin. In fact, there games are near identical.

At their peak, both are diminutive tricky players who can beat a man for fun, but are not blessed with heaps of pace. They can stick one in the top corner from anywhere on the pitch, but also have a tendency to go missing.

Before we signed Arshavin, I had followed him a bit in Russia. He performed once every 5 games. So it was not a surprise when he came to Arsenal and put in similar inconsistent performances. Arshavin’s career before, during and after Arsenal was inconsistent.

Payet is similar, and it is why, at 29, he has never played for a major club and, prior to joining West Ham, barely had any France caps. He is inconsistent.

For Marseille, he would be phenomenal one week, then go missing the next. West Ham was similar. Even in games, he would do nothing during a game, then curl in a free kick. He was brilliant last season for the Hammers, but he was also very poor in games.

At West Ham you can afford that sort of inconsistency. As a fan of a smaller club you can ignore the games he disappears for. Arsenal can not afford it.

Arshavin was a good signing for Arsenal at the time, he almost single handly got us into the Champions League in his 1st 5 months at the club. Payet could do similar.


When it comes to Dimitri Payet, I am firmly on the fence. I think his talent does justify his short term-ness, and Arsenal no longer need to think about sell on fees, but were we not to sign him, I would not exactly be upset as we are not desperately in need for him, and there are plenty of reasons to not recruit him.


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