Is there anyone left in the footballing world who still doesn’t understand Dimitri Payet? If there were, they’d certainly know about our majestic Frenchman now following the announcement of nominations for the 2016 Ballon d’Or award.
His nine league goals and eight assists in his debut season earned him a place in the PFA Team of the Year and also Hammer of the Year. He also won the Player of the Year gong at the London Football Awards. So impressive was his first season that he forced his way into Didier Deschamps’ France squad ahead of Euro 2016, where he netted three times as the hosts reached the final, which in itself is a significant accolade.
The Ballon d’Or nomination is also not just brilliant for last season’s Hammer of the Year but also West Ham United and, dare I say it, the brand. The nomination puts the club’s name alongside the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona and will show players across the world what they can achieve if they decided to ply their try at London Stadium.
You’d hope this international recognition would also encourage football fans around the world to adopt West Ham as their English team. Equally, it might help put our new home in the spotlight for the right reasons for a change and possibly lead to a major corporation putting their name to our stadium.
Do I think he will win it? No but we should all be pleased to see his name included on the list, even if it means other clubs will be asking themselves yet again if they need a Payet in their squad. Even though it is unlikely he will win the award, I wouldn’t put it past Payet to finish in the top three. The award is, after all, given out by French magazine France Football.