Dimitri Payet’s spring of spectacular free kicks received yet another highlight-reel-worthy entry Saturday.
Payet, 29, is a French midfielder for West Ham, recently signed to a five-year contract. This season is his first in the Premier League and through 24 games, he has racked up eight goals and nine assists. A few of those goals, as well as one in international play, are creating quite the profile for the Hammers’s newcomer.
The Frenchman first flexed his leg March 13 against Manchester United. At the 67:17-mark, Payet tucked a free kick inside the top left corner, breaking the tie and putting West Ham up 1-0. The kick was reminiscent of free-kick goal from a 3-1 victory against Bournemouth Jan. 12 — the ball placement was several inches higher in that instance. Manchester would not submit as easily, though, tying the game and holding on for a draw.
Payet found the back of the net via free kick once again March 30, the difference being that this time, he was representing and performing for France’s national team in a match against Russia. Once again, Payet favored the top left, this time after starting in the middle of the pitch, and put France up 3-1.
His latest addition took place Saturday, with Payet back in his claret uniform, and this one may have been the most impressive entry to date. With West Ham tied 1-1 with Crystal Palace, Payet, after allowing a stutter-step fake from Aaron Cresswell, took a few quick steps toward the ball before his right foot sent the ball curving above and around the wall and neatly sneaking into the upper right 90. Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was frozen by the shot, faking left before realizing it was too late to jump back across toward the ball.
A fan in the stands at Upton Park caught the goal on camera from behind the action, producing a stunning angle and showing the game of inches Payet was playing with his strike.
Despite his heroics, Crystal Palace would come back to tie the game at 2-all after West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate was sent off. The game ended in a draw.