Leeds United Had Tried To Sign This French Ace This Summer: Was He A Viable Target For Bielsa?

Leeds United had tried to sign Dimitri Payet this summer - A risky option.
Marseille's French midfielder Dimitri Payet reacts during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Marseille (OM) at the Parc de Princes stadium in Paris on September 13, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

According to Le10Sport, Leeds United had tried to sign Dimitri Payet this summer. The Olympique Marseille star has recently signed a “lifetime” contract with the club, essentially meaning that he will end his career at OM. But shortly before he had agreed his contract, Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa had reportedly phoned him regarding a potential switch to Elland Road.

Bielsa’s call did coerce Payet into thinking long and hard about his future, though the Frenchman eventually opted to stay put at his current club. He is unlikely to move elsewhere anytime soon, having only signed the Marseille deal a couple of months ago. But would he have been a good signing for Leeds United?

How Has Payet Fared Since West Ham?

Payet is fondly remembered for his short yet successful stint at West Ham as he was involved in 38 goals in just 60 competitive matches. However, he left the London outfit in January 2017, rejoining Marseille for a fee of almost €30 million.

Payet continued his excellent form in Ligue 1, notably taking part in 19 goals in just 31 league matches during the 2017/18 campaign. Although the Frenchman was excluded from France’s World Cup-winning team in 2018, he has consistently performed in the French top flight.

Along with Florian Thauvin, the 33-year-old has formed a lethal attacking combination, helping Marseille prosper under the leadership of Andres Villas-Boas. He notably provided the assist in the recent win over Paris-Saint Germain and is once again expected to play a key role for OM in the new season.

Leeds United had tried to sign Dimitri Payet this summer - Still at the peak of his powers?
Marseille’s French midfielder Dimitri Payet applauds as he is replaced during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Marseille (OM) at the Parc de Princes stadium in Paris on September 13, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Was Payet A Viable Option For Leeds United?

The addition of Payet would have been a risky move by Marcelo Bielsa, considering the fact that he will turn 34 before the end of the ongoing campaign. Leeds United themselves have already appeared quite unfortunate to have someone like Pablo Hernandez only during the final phase of his career.

The Spaniard is a major trump card for Bielsa. But, there are question marks over Payet’s fitness and whether or not he will be the right fit for the Argentine’s tactical philosophy that usually requires a lot of work ethic and athleticism. We also have to consider the Frenchman’s wage demands, which are most likely to eclipse most of Leeds’ current stars.

The Whites can instead use that money to fund a move for a more proactive individual, who would be willing to integrate himself into Bielsa’s philosophy. They have already been linked with a move for Rodrigo de Paul of Udinese, so it will be interesting to see whether or not anything materialises over the next couple of weeks.

Jack O’Brien

A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.