The Ligue 1 Left Midfielder of the Year is Dimitri Payet:
Dimitri Payet has had a fabulous season for Lille despite a disappointing campaign for the team itself, with the side missing out on Europe all together. Payet occupies the left midfield place in our team of the season and he has indeed played the majority of his matches on the left hand side this season. Payet has proved himself the be very versatile, however, playing in the orthodox midfield position, as well as an attacking midfielder where he has played the most, and as almost a third striker on the left hand side in a 4-3-3 formation. In all of these positions, Payet has excelled in the 2012/13 campaign; and this has allowed him to put himself back into contention for the national team until Deschamps eventually picked him at the back end of the season.
So why did this happen, and why, more importantly, have you picked him to be in your Get French Football news Ligue 1 team of the season?
Payet leads (alongside Mathieu Valbuena) the assists chart for the season with 12 in Ligue 1. His creative play has indeed been incredibly strong and as much as he has made 37 league starts and takes corners and set pieces for Lille, as Valbuena does for Marseille, he has also been very prominent in open play and has both provided assists with pinpoint crosses into the box and also through balls behind the last defender. He has great vision and has been proved to be a nightmare down both flanks for many defenders. Perhaps a reason why he was unable to achieve even more this year is down to the poor display of others around him with the likes of Roux and Kalou failing to live up to expectation (although the latter miraculously picked himself up towards the end of the season).
Payet has also proved himself as a well-rounded individual by scoring as many goals as he has provided (12). This list has provided some belters and it has become clear, more this season than ever that Payet likes to shoot from range. In fact the majority of his goals have come from distance and Payet loves to cut inside and curl the ball into the corner. In terms of an English comparison, one could probably compare his playing style to that of Ashley Young. Payet loves running at defenders as well as charging through the middle when playing balls to the flanks. He is once again similar to Valbuena in the way that he likes to roam the attacking half and often comes out of position to create a chance.
One obvious shortcoming of Payet’s current game is his inefficiency in front of goal. The accuracy of his attempts on target came up as one of the worst in Ligue 1 last season, simply because he takes so many shots on. Often, this has angered Lille fans.
Payet’s main weakness, however, appears to be his inability to track back and contribute in the defensive third. As much as he has been a huge presence in the attacking third and contributed towards 40% of Lille’s goals this season, goals have been conceded as he, alongside other attacking players, have left the defence, which includes young left back Lucas Digne down Payet’s side, overexposed, which has led to costly goals to their determent in their unsuccessful European charge.
As mentioned throughout, Payet has shown himself to be fairly similar in an attacking sense to the likes of Mathieu Valbuena, and with the Marseille man possibly on his way out of the Stade Velodrome, Payet has been heavily linked to be his replacement, or even to play alongside him with Marseille. His future destination is unknown, but this tremendous season has put a move to European side Marseille on the cards.
Max Quelch Wools, a member of the Ligue 1 Team of the Year Experts Panel and a French football analyst for Football Radar added this on Payet:
‘Replacing Eden Hazard was always going to be a tall order for Rudi Garcia but in the mercurial Belgian’s departure, Dimitri Payet has been allowed to flourish. Payet has been the driving force behind Les Dogues’ revival in the second half of the season, contributing 12 goals and 12 assists to help propel the side back into European contention. With his direct running, accurate passing and an eye for a goal, Payet has been a menace to Ligue 1 defences all season and has undoubtedly been Lille’s standout player.’