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The reason Wenger passed up the chance to sign West Ham's free-kick king Payet

The Frenchman’s lack of consistency earlier in his career cost him the chance of a move to Arsenal.

Payet has been in flying form for the Hammers.
Payet has been in flying form for the Hammers.
Image: Clive Rose

ARSENAL BOSS ARSENE Wenger turned down the chance to sign Dimitri Payet earlier in his career due to the West Ham star’s lack of consistency.

Payet has been one of the standout performers in the Premier League this season with nine goals - including a string of stunning free-kicks - in his debut campaign in the Premier League.

The 29-year-old’s form has helped fire Slaven Bilic’s team into top-four contention, as well as earning him a recall to the France squad with Euro 2016 drawing closer.

Speaking before Arsenal’s trip to West Ham on Saturday, Wenger said of the former Marseille playmaker: ”I have watched him many times, I have known him for a long time.

“When he played in Saint-Etienne, we watched him many times. He had all the attributes to be a top, top player.

This season he has matured a lot, he is back in the national team, and that shows he has been much more consistent.

“He always had top talent, but had periods where was up and down.”

Wenger went on to say that he has not given up on reeling in Premier League leaders Leicester City, despite the 11-point gap between his team and Claudio Ranieri’s side.

He added: “Of course [Leicester can be caught], why not?

As long as it is still mathematically possible there is a strong possibility. They have been remarkably consistent but every game is tight, can go the other way as well.

“We know that we need a near perfect run, and we don’t only look ahead but behind as we have a group of teams who can make it difficult for us.

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