Arsene Wenger had been watching the Frenchman for a while
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admitted the club were watching Dimitri Payet, before the France midfielder joined West Ham last summer.
The Gunners boss is well known for targeting players from his native France, with Thierry Henry, Mathieu Flamini and Bacary Sagna to name a few that have joined Arsenal during his reign.
But Payet is one Frenchman that Wenger will rue not signing, as the 29-year-old has showed incredible form to propel West Ham to within sight of a Champions League place.
However, Wenger insists that he is not concerned about missing out on the former Marseille midfielder, as they decided not to pursue a deal, due to wealth of options they already have in that position.
“We had this kind of player and we had no need [for more],” said Wenger, ahead of Arsenal’s visit to West Ham on Saturday.
“Historically we always had a great number of creative players — we had Mest Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey — they are all offensive players and I’ve certainly forgotten a few, so we had the numbers.”
Wenger compliments Payet’s consistency
Payet has netted 12 goals in 31 appearances, making it a fine break-through season in the Premier League, after arriving in England as relatively unknown. And Wenger has identified consistency as one of the midfielder’s key qualities, during the nine years he has been tracking him.
“I have known him for a long, long time. When he played at St Etienne he played there for a few years and we watched him many times. He has all the attributes to be a top, top player and is that in fact.” Wenger said.
“He is 29-years-old already, but this season he has matured a lot as he has come back into the national team when he looked to be out. That shows he has been much more consistent.
“He has always had top talent, even when in periods he has been a bit up and down. But he has been very consistent.”
And if Wenger had any hopes of tempting the menacing midfielder to the Emirates this summer, they have been quashed with the midfielder signing a new deal to keep him at the club until 2021.