Marseille’s form has been tumultuous since the middle of last month and it is in sharp contrast to how they performed last season. One of the decorated clubs in France's football history, Marseille enjoyed a renaissance last year when they finished second to PSG in the Ligue 1.
One man who was central to that spirited campaign was none other than Dimitri Payet. The former West Ham playmaker showed flashes of his former self as Marseille continued a 16-match domestic juggernaut.
To put Payet’s performance into perspective, the French winger slammed nine goals and four assists in just 22 league outings. Such was Payet’s impact last term that Marseille never actually felt the absence of Florian Thauvin.
The youngster has been Marseille’s best player since he joined from Newcastle in 2017. Many expected Marseille to struggle in the final third with Thauvin out for the season due to injury. However, the player's absence was not felt as Payet came to the team's rescue.
This season, however, things have been rather dull for Payet. It took the winger six matches to land his first strike, albeit in a game where he got sent off inside the first twenty minutes. With that suspension, Payet was out for the next two matches.
Payet has failed to make a mark not just in Ligue 1, but even in Europe. The Frenchman failed to turn up in the two clashes against Manchester City in the Champions League earlier this season. Marseille manager Andre Villas-Boas had to put him on the bench for the return leg against FC Porto.
While many expected Payet to refind his form following the team's Champions League exit, he has failed to recreate those magic moments from last year. Since serving his suspension against FC Lorient, Payet has scored just one goal for Marseille in their last nine outings.
Marseille’s recent form has, in many ways, mirrored Payet’s decline. Despite signing a contract extension just last year, the 33-year old is quickly becoming a liability for Marseille.
This season, the returning Florian Thauvin has been carrying Marseille entirely on his shoulders. The French international’s excellent run of form in November kept Marseille in this season's title hunt. However, once the goals from Thauvin dried up, Marseille has struggled to convert draws into wins.
Marseille need to find a solution to their problems to remain in the title race in 2021. Addressing Payet's loss of form is one way the French club can get back to winnings ways.