Saturday 3 December 2016

Dimitri Payet has shown moving to West Ham is step up in career - Slaven Bilic

Published 31/03/2016 | 22:36

Slaven Bilic was delighted to see Dimitri Payet, pictured, make a successful return to the France fold
Slaven Bilic was delighted to see Dimitri Payet, pictured, make a successful return to the France fold

Slaven Bilic believes Dimitri Payet's recent international success can prove a catalyst for West Ham to bring in more big-name players.

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Payet has been in fine form for the Hammers in his debut season in England and has already penned a much-improved contract to keep away any potential summer suitors.

His impressive displays proved enough to earn him a recall into Didier Deschamps' France squad for their recent friendly double-header ahead of this summer's European Championships on home soil.

After taking his club form into the opening friendly victory over Holland, Payet celebrated his 29th birthday by coming off the bench to score a superb free-kick in Tuesday's 4-2 win against Russia.

The former Marseille man has been instrumental in turning West Ham into potential top-four material this term, ahead of the move to the Olympic Stadium at the start of the 2016/17 campaign.

And Bilic feels Payet's return from the international wilderness can show others they can improve their careers by moving to West Ham.

"That is right," Bilic said when asked if Payet's success can make West Ham attractive to other top talent.

"Maybe some of the French players or press who knew how good he was were thinking, 'that is it, no chance with the national team or anything. Okay you are going to be living in London at a good club and make good money, and that is it'.

"But Payet has raised his game by playing for West Ham and that can change things.

"Because of him and because of more players, they should think now that if they are going to West Ham it is a step up in their career if anything."

While many club managers would fret at the prospect of letting their talisman link up with their national sides with the threat of injury or fatigue, Bilic - who coached his native Croatia between 2006 and 2012 - reckons the end of Payet's France exodus is a good thing for West Ham.

"It is great for him and great for us," he said.

"In one hand you'd love him to be with us, train and rest, but it is great.

"He was very confident before but he will become even more confident now. At the end of the day he didn't go for holiday - he was training with top-quality players and a top-quality coach.

"His situation regarding France has changed a lot. I read that before this couple of games many people were asking why he was not in - he had good games, he was man of the match against Holland and then came on against Russia and scored that wonderful free-kick.

"To get into a team full of quality in every position it is great for him in the first place, it is good for us, he is playing for us and it is a big boost for him before the last games of the season."

With Payet setting an example to other players who may now look to West Ham as a potential new home, Bilic insists a top-four finish and failure to qualify for the Champions League will not detract anyone from joining.

"We are okay," he said. "Being in Europe would attract bigger players, but we are a big enough club.

"Add to that the history and if you add that we are moving to a new stadium, we are playing good football, in the Premier League and a London club - that is enough to attract good players."

One player linked has been Paris St Germain skipper Zlatan Ibrahimovic but, despite co-chairman David Sullivan mentioning the Sweden international, Bilic does not think the move will happen.

"I don't know. Nothing is unrealistic, but I said my opinion. I can't see Ibrahimovic playing for West Ham," he added.

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