Cottee: Payet can be better than Di Canio at West Ham

Former hit man believes Frenchman can be mentioned in the same breath as Hammers greats

Gulf News

Dubai: Former West Ham United striker Tony Cottee believes Dimitri Payet can overtake Paolo Di Canio in the club’s best ever player stakes.

Speaking at ‘An Evening With’ at West Beach Bistro in the Movenpick Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Residence on Wednesday, Cottee was asked who the best Hammer of the Premier League era was.

“Before last season most Hammers would have said Di Canio,” said Cottee, who scored 115 goals in 279 games over two spells at West Ham from 1982 to 1988 and 1994 to 1996. “He had four outstanding years at the club and was very much a cult hero.

“But if Payet carries on doing what he’s doing … he’s only had one year at the club so not to get too carried away but his goal the other week against Middlesbrough was sensational.

“If you go further back the best I played with is Alan Devonshire without doubt and Trevor Brooking, they each spent 14 and 18 years at the club (respectively), whereas Di Canio had four and Payet has only been there one year, so it’s very hard to compare after such a short spell, but at the moment it’s probably still Di Canio.”

Payet scored 9 in 30 Premier League appearances last season and has 1 goal in five appearances so far this season.

Of another of Cottee’s former clubs Everton, he was asked if they could finish above rivals Liverpool this season for the first time since 2012/13. Everton are currently fifth in the league on 14 points from seven games, two points short of fourth-placed Liverpool.

“I’d love to say the answer is yes but I’m a big fan of Jurgen Klopp and I like the way Liverpool are playing this season,” said Cottee, who scored 72 goals in 184 games for Everton between 1988 and 1994. “Even the biggest Evertonian can’t say anything bad about them.

“With the start Everton had I thought they were going to have a good season albeit only after somewhat easier fixtures, but then they lost to Bournemouth and drew with Palace.

“They’ve brought in Ronald Koeman and now have a keeper and a back four, they’ve got some good players and I’m sure they’ll have a good season.”