From the Newsroom - Gary Jacob

The Times’ football writer Gary Jacob casts his eye over everything West Ham United
The Times’ football writer Gary Jacob casts his eye over everything West Ham United
They are putting the final touches to the refurbished Olympic Stadium and Dimitri Payet will be one of the star attractions when he runs out for West Ham United next season. He signed a bumper contract last week, which should prevent months of rumours linking him with bigger clubs, when the strong likelihood has always been he is going nowhere this summer. He turns 29 next month and that has always been a safeguard in West Ham’s favour.

West Ham’s stadium move, likely finishing place in the league this season and new television deal probably means they will have plenty of funds and could break their transfer record set when they signed Andy Carroll.

They have heavily watched Michy Batshuayi, as have Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City, Newcastle United and clubs in Italy.  West Ham and Stoke wanted to agree the transfer deal last month and allow him to stay at Marseilles for the rest of season. The French club said no and believe his price can only go up especially if he is shines at Euro 2016. They want a summer auction and the Belgium striker is likely to go for big money, perhaps as much as £30million. He has 12 strikes and four assists this season, a third of the goals for Marseilles, and second top scorer in France behind Zlatan Ibrahimovi?.

In West Ham’s favour is that they have a good relationship with Marseilles. They believe they can offer him a regular first-team place, not competing with the likes of Harry Kane. It would be a major statement of intent.

West Ham’s recruitment team focus heavily on a player statistics. That was what drew them to look at Payet, because of his assists, and stoked interest in Wilfried Bony. That is what might draw them to look at Vincent Janssen who has 14 goals for AZ Alkmaar in his first season and a good credit for Holland youth sides.

Payet has contributed towards 12 league goals; five of them assists so far. After a slow start he helped to turn around the game against Norwich City on Saturday, just as he did against Bournemouth last month, keeping West Ham in contention for a European place. The only surprise is that he could not find the consistency or discipline earlier in his career. 

It is not usual for West Ham to increase a player’s pay so quickly after his arrival. Payet’s pay rise is a reward, marks his influence and should prevent the ship being unsettled. He has been so heavily praised by his manager and club that he and his agent have been justified to ask, ‘why aren’t you paying me what is deserved?’  Nearly 80 per cent of fans polled voted in favour of his improved deal, according to a poll on the excellent Claret and Hugh fans’ website.  

No player has brought so much excitement and expectation since Carlos Tevez rescued the team for near certain relegation nearly a decade ago. Supporters appreciate the players for being hard working and determined on the pitch, regardless of their tricks and skills. 

Suddenly, his £10.5million transfer fee seems cheap. Manuel Lanzini has been the other attacking inspiration and Bilic had tracked him from the time he was handed the No10 shirt at River Plate at the age of just 20.

Payet has never before experienced the kind of affection he has received at Upton Park and a song on his honour. “It was posted a lot on my Twitter feed," Payet has said. “It is the first time I have a song with my name – it never happens in France. It really touched me.”

“Do well and let others speak” is the motto of Saint-Philippe, situated south-west of Reunion where he grew up. It sticks to his skin. For so long they talked about Payet not quite fulfilling his potential, when he was shifted across the attacking line, until he found his place as a striker or winger at Lille.  Even at Marseilles, he was slightly suffocated until Mathieu Valbuena left for Russia. At Upton Park, he has found a home.

*Views expressed in this article don't necessarily reflect that of West Ham United