Ahead of the tough fixture against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic had nothing but compliments for arguably West Ham’s best player so far Dimitri Payet.
Payet, who arrived from Ligue 1 side Marseille, has pushed the Hammers to fifth in the Premier League table, scoring or assisting nine goals in his last 10 league appearances.
He is now on the opposition’s radar but Bilic insisted he is not concerned the 28-year-old is a marked man.
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Bilic said: “If the teams were analysing us before the game then they will try to mark him anyway. He’s just a very good player. I’m not comparing him to Messi, Ronaldo or David Silva but for years the managers are trying to block or stop those big players but they can’t do it because they’re great players.
“Dimitri is going to continue to play like this especially if the team is helping him. We are giving him the ball when he comes up against three or four players and we are trying to make the situation easier for him.”
In France’s top league, the former St Etienne star was the only player to register 10 or more goals and assists in the 2012/13 season, while last season saw him create more chances than Messi and Ronaldo.
Bilic says Payet’s quick assimilation of the English game has not surprised him, saying he has settled “very well”.
“Some players need some time but the English media talk too much,” said the former Besiktas coach. “When a player moves from Italy to France or Germany to Spain then they don’t really talk too much about how a player will adapt in the team and the league. If a player is a good player, then of course he needs time because it’s a new environment and new country.
“Dimitri is a class player and it’s not his first move. He played for Marseille which is a massive club and he was a key player there. He hasn’t settled completely but he’s such a class player but he’s a good professional and it doesn’t surprise me.”
Kick-off for the Manchester City v West Ham match, September 19, is 5.45pm