If they didn’t already, West Ham’s Premier League top-six betting odds of 9/4 look all the more juicy since Dimitri Payet committed his future to the club.
I’ve heard about all the interest [from other clubs] and I’m flattered but I love West Ham,” the Frenchman told The Sun.
“We had a fantastic season and I can’t wait to play in the Olympic Stadium. I’m 100% staying at West Ham, I love the club. I can tell the Hammers fans that.”
Payet had a superb first season in east London, conjuring 12 goals and 15 assists in 38 appearances for the club across all competitions and his dedication to the cause could well be pivotal to the Irons’ chances of finishing in the top six.
They only relinquished their grip on sixth place to Southampton on the last day of the 2015/16 campaign, having spent a good deal of the season in a prolonged flirtation with the Champions League places.
Indeed but for a run of poor luck with a slew of questionable refereeing decisions to their detriment in March, in particular against Arsenal and Chelsea, they may well have qualified for Europe’s elite competition.
That they came so close to doing so despite lacking more than a single fit striker (and sometimes not having even one) for much of the campaign, suggests that bringing in a robust and clinical finisher this summer could well help them bridge the gap.
Attempts to sign Michy Batshuayi and Carlos Bacca make it clear that it’s an area they are working on addressing.
It might be suggested that Europa League involvement will prove a burden on the Irons’ top-six ambitions, providing they qualify for the group stage of this year’s competition.
However, the club have moved early to land some shrewd signings in wingers Sofiane Feghouli and Gokhan Tore and central-midfielder Havard Nordtveit, that should insulate them against the added strain on their squad.