Marseille captain Payet eyeing France World Cup spot
The sun has been shining in Marseille of late. With the football team winning regularly, the locals are in good heart, and Dimitri Payet is enjoying his football once more…
Luring a leading light back to France from the English Premier League is never easy, but the exciting plans being put into place by newly appointed Olympique de Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud convinced Payet to return to the Orange Vélodrome last January.
"He laid out the project to me very clearly, explaining what the club and the new owners wanted to do," Payet told the Ligue 1 show on beIN SPORTS. "They want to make Marseille a top team again, a team that can win trophies. He said Rome wasn't built in a day, that it'll take time, but he wanted me to be part of the project. It was something I wanted to be involved in."
Aging like wine
Payet may turn 31 at the end of March, but he's shown is recent weeks that he hasn't lost the magic, scoring three goals and setting up three more over the last seven games.
"It feels good to be playing well again," he continued. "It's nice when you sense your form is returning. Scoring and setting up goals is important. That’s what I'm in the team for so it's good."
Watch: Payet's Top 5 goals - no wonder OM wanted him back!
If Payet owes his recent upturn to hard work, he's also grateful for the support and patience shown to him by Rudi Garcia, a coach he had already worked under during his time at LOSC.
"I need that kind of father-son relationship with my coach, someone who'll pull me into line if necessary. Every time I've had that type of relationship with a coach, it's gone well for me. The coach has managed to get the best out of me each time. Rudi Garcia is a winner, a competitor who wants to win everything. When he says that it's not just hot air. He genuinely thinks that and he plays every game to win."
Garcia’s decision to make Payet his captain surprised a few - but the extra responsibility is something the France forward enjoys.
"I'd never been captain before. I'm not someone who judges or shouts at others. I simply try to encourage. We've all experienced tough times, we've all turned in bad performances and missed chances. But the most important thing is to keep working and in the end, it always pays off."
Payet demonstrated his leadership in the 6-3 win over FC Metz in Week 24 when he opted to gift a goal to struggling striker Kostas Mitroglou, rather than finding the net himself.
Watch: Payet's selfless assist for Mitroglou
'He needed a goal'
"We want him to enjoy his football, to get back the confidence he's missing right now," Payet said of his Greek counterpart. "I think anybody would have done what I did in that situation. I had the chance to pass to him, but it was the natural thing to do. He needed a goal, strikers always need goals, so I gave him the chance."
Unselfish on that occasion, Payet knows he also needs to shine in the coming months if he's to feature in Didier Deschamps' FIFA World Cup squad in Russia this summer.
"I already missed the World Cup in Brazil," he concluded. "That hurt me and I know there won't be ten chances. I know that there's serious competition in attack, other countries are jealous of our attacking talent. If I don’t get picked it'll mean I didn't do enough."
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