By Dominic Toner
Former Tottenham director of football Damien Comolli has revealed that he rejected the chance to sign Dimitri Payet when he was a youngster.
Comolli has claimed he was a huge admirer of the 29-year-old playmaker during his Spurs tenure but felt the player needed another two years before he was ready for the Premier League.
The Londoners were in contract Payet’s second club, Saint-Etienne, about a potential transfer when the player was just 20 years old but the talks came to nothing because Comolli left White Hart Lane before any deal could happen.
“When I was at Spurs the Saint-Etienne president telephoned me one day and said, ‘Listen, we’re on the point of signing this player, Dimitri Payet, from Nantes for €4million (£3.1million)’,” said Comolli as quoted by the Evening Standard.
“That was an enormous amount of money for Saint-Etienne. He said, ‘I wondered if you’d be interested in buying him for Tottenham in two years’ time for €10million (£7.7million)’.
“I said ‘yes’. I didn’t think the player was ready at that point to play for Tottenham but I thought that after two years at Saint-Etienne he would be ready — so I said it was something that I’d be interested in.
“As I left Tottenham and ended up at Saint-Etienne it never materialised. But back then Payet was already a player that I liked a lot, having seen him when he was young at Nantes.”
Former Arsenal scout Comolli was at Tottenham from 2005 until 2008 and then had an 18-month spell at Liverpool before he was sacked in 2011.
Payet, who joined West Ham for £10.7million last summer, made 129 appearances for Saint-Etienne and scored 19 goals, before having stints at French giants Lille and Marseille respectively.
Payet is currently lighting up Euro 2016 with two late goals during the group stages to win the hearts of host nation France.
The Frenchman has continued his remarkable form from the 2015-16 domestic campaign, in which he scored 12 goals and created 15 assists during his debut season for London-rivals West Ham.
In other Tottenham news, they look set to miss out on the signing of shortlisted transfer target.