The importance of the attacker to OM is similar to that of which the two superstars carry for their club sides, according to his boss
Marseille head coach Andre Villas-Boas has compared his star man Dimitri Payet to Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Juventus ace Cristiano Ronaldo.
With 11 Ballon d’Or titles between them, the duo have dominated the world game for over a decade, while Payet’s highlights include a stellar campaign in the Premier League with West Ham, a Europa League runners-up spot with OM and 38 caps for France.
Nevertheless, Villas-Boas, who was speaking after a scoreless Ligue 1 draw against Angers that the Reunion-born player missed due to suspension, believes that the importance his side attaches to the 32-year-old forward is similar to that the teams of Messi and Ronaldo give to their respective superstars.
“Barcelona are Messi dependent, Juventus are Ronaldo dependent. If we’re Payet dependent, we’re Payet dependent,” he reasoned.
“But it doesn’t worry me. Good players make the difference. But I’ve got no problems handling something like that.
“We missed him. He’s a player who can make that last pass and can score. He was suspended today but the players who we had played a brave game.
“We took a point. When a match is close like that, you can’t afford to lose it. We were ready to take a point, it’s pragmatism. We have to be smart sometimes.”
Marseille are in good voice to seal a return to the Champions League next season, lying second in Ligue 1, nine points clear of fourth-placed Montpellier.
Payet, however, was linked with a move back to West Ham, a suggestion that the Portuguese bristled over when questioned over it on Thursday.
“Qualifying for the Champions League is not possible without a player like Dimitri Payet,” the ex-Chelsea boss said. “He would be missed for his quality of play but also his personality, his authority in the team.”
Hammers boss David Moyes also rejected the suggestion that the midfielder could return to the London side, who suffered a 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round defeat at home against West Brom on Saturday.
“The newspapers seem to think so but I’ve got to say it’s never been mentioned inside the walls here at any time,” Moyes said.
“If it has then it hasn’t been mentioned in my department, that’s for sure.”Payet will return to the fold for OM when they face Strasbourg in the Coupe de France on Wednesday.