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Payet’s timely outburst might prove the best thing for West Ham's season

West Ham’s season could change for all the right reasons.

Manchester United v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Dimitri Payet - scintillating star or luxury item? Twelve months prior you wouldn't even have to ask for an answer, Payet’s hard work and graft on the pitch answered it for you. However, is appeasing one man’s needs beneficial to a team? Or are you merely cowering at the thought of losing him?

When Slaven Bilić entered into his weekly press conference last Thursday morning he had a choice, remain quiet on the week’s proceedings and not let it affect his squad before a crucial London derby, or oust his once beloved superstar for his childish demands.

France v Albania - Group A: UEFA Euro 2016
How a few months make a difference.
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Cast your mind back to the opening night of EURO 2016, a nation held its breath. Was it to be written in the stars, that the coveted Henri Delaunay trophy could be won on home soil? All it needed was a star, like Neymar to Brazil two years prior, someone was about to steal the spotlight.

Out of sheer selfishness I hoped he (Payet) would flop, for the French media to once again prove he couldn't impact and deliver on the greatest stage of all.

In a way it's naive to think that could have happened, after already displaying his match winning capabilities and mesmerising talent over the course of West Ham’s season.

The thought of losing a player that could deliver potential success in our inaugural season at the London Stadium was too much; I couldn't bear the thought of another club taking him away from us.

Of course what happened was Payet turned into a sensation, if not for Antoine Griezmann’s scoring prowess he would have comfortably taken home player of the tournament.

West Ham United v Watford - Premier League
Dimtri Payet never recaptured that same form we've come to know over the last year during his second season with the club.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

When it was all said and done Payet returned home to speculation left right and centre, first it was China, then PSG and potentially Manchester United. However the one that stood out the most - Real Madrid. A chance to play for his childhood hero, Zinedine Zidane.

Now in an ideal world everything should have been rainbows and butterflies. Dimtri Payet became a superstar, West Ham managed to fend off all interest to keep hold of their star man and with a new season looming all the pieces had come together at the right time, or had it?

Slaven Bilić used the phrase "tapping up" in his press conference last week, something that happens an awful lot in football these days. It can turn a players head; cast their eye whilst distracting them from their main objective.

In my opinion we lost Dimitri Payet the moment his incredible winner flew in against Romania, the "tapping up" that occurred throughout the summer was a direct result as to why we find ourselves on the brink of losing him today.

Admittedly it must have been difficult for a player not known to the spotlight to able to handle the media circus that now surrounded him. When we think of players like Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, they’ve lived in the spotlight every day of their lives. They've learnt to handle and cope with bogus rumours, whereas Payet, a fresh budding superstar to the world before he joined West Ham, seemed to crumble with pressure.

In an ideal world his agent could have kept him away from the press, but when you have a chance to elevate your client from a retrospectively smaller club in England to one the greatest teams in the world, the temptation is hard to resist.

West Ham United v Crystal Palace - Premier League
West Ham were more than capable without Payet against Crystal Palace.
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Now we arrive at the crux of the problem, all of a sudden with the lofty expectations set by our fans from the previous season, the new stadium and the world's 17th best player on our side, we were to hit the Premier League hard and fight amongst the big boys.

What David Sullivan and David Gold forgot to realise was they’d need to add extra firepower to appease Dimtri Payet. The transfers that happened were appalling, there's no denying that, but with a summer full of promise I can't help to think how things could have been different if we'd actually managed to sign Alexandre Lacazette.

After a shocking start to the season, it began to show the true and harsh realities of the summer's failings, however although it was 'West Ham struggling,' people seemed more keen on already placing Payet with a new club in the January transfer window.

A lot of things happen behind the scenes at a football club that us the fans never hear of, but I can't imagine how it must feel to be constantly scrutinised for not performing at the highest level. Was that because we had Dimitri Payet in our team and the world expected more or was it the squad under performing as a whole?

West Ham United v Manchester United - Premier League
I know how his child feels.
Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

You could argue that they weren't at all; Winston Reid has shown us the Kiwi of old in recent weeks. Pedro Obiang's emergence as our best midfielder after Bilić finally decided to play him, or Michail Antonio coming out as the clubs top scorer whilst he earned an England call-up alongside team mate Aaron Cresswell.

In fact, if anyone wasn't pulling their weight as much as last year it was Dimitri Payet himself, although he would spark a moment of magic like his goals against Middlesbrough and Liverpool, he often looked lazy and lethargic compared to last season. Take a look at his reaction to Ashley Fletcher's goal in the EFL Cup - he wasn't even interested.

I saw Payet as a scintillating star last year, the feeling of being inside Goodison Park when he snatched the winner from the jaws of defeat was incredible, and the man could do no wrong. Fast forward a few months and he's begun to feel like a luxury, although it's nice to have him, would it not have just been easier to let him go in the summer where he'd of been happiest, I can't help but feel we could have avoided all this heartache.

The win against Crystal Palace this weekend all but confirmed to everyone that in-fact we don't need Dimitri Payet at all. The first half was nervous, but I think after the events of last Thursday when it was first cast into the spotlight it was a fair reaction. In the second half we opened up and showed some of the brilliant football we've come to know under Bilić's reign.

To me, for the first time all season I saw a West Ham play with a confidence and swagger, it was almost like a weight lifted from their shoulders and they were finally able to put together and all-round team performance.

Does it surprise you this was after Payet was left out?

Regular West Ham insider ExWHUemployee reported that Payet had been causing problems in training all year, through turning up late or simply not at all.

If what has been reported is true, I can only sympathise on how horrible it must have been for the entire backroom staff and squad included. No one can condone how selfish Dimitri's actions have been.

For the first time in over six months West Ham might actually be able to turn the corner on their season, they've not only proved to themselves that they can win together, they've proved it to Slaven, the rest of the league and they've might have proved that Dimitri Payet was the problem all along.

I fully expect the team to finally unite as a group and be closer than ever as we look to improve our fortunes, the sheer weight of the aura that surrounded Payet may have been too much for our players to handle.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League
Happier times.
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

It's always nice to have the calibre of player like Payet at West Ham; we fell head over heels for him because we don't see it happen that often. Not since the days of Tevez and Di Canio before him have we worshipped someone for their incredible talent.

We sang his song aloud wherever we went, we got to taste the feeling of winning again and what it was like to feel the presence of someone special, and for that I'll always be grateful.

The times we had were some of the best memories I have shared with my beloved team, but not one person is bigger than any club. If money swayed him or the temptation of returning home was too great, then so be it.

Unlike Payet we'll always be here supporting with or without him. It just might be a while until we see the next superstar arrive on our doorstep...