Aston Villa midfielder Idrissa Gana not surprised by Dimitri Payet's success with West Ham

Payet Skill

The former Ligue 1 stars played together at Lille for two seasons before Payet moved on to Marseille in 2013.

Aston Villa midfielder Idrissa Gana will come up against a familiar face if he features in tonight’s match at West Ham United.

The 26-year-old Senegalese played with Hammers attacker Dimitri Payet at Lille between 2011 and 2013 and knows all too well about the threat his former teammate will pose should he start the game as expected.

Signed from Marseille in the summer in a deal worth £10.7million plus bonuses, the France international has since recorded six goals and four assists in 16 Premier League appearances for Slaven Bilic’s men and earned review for his performances from fans, pundits and even opposition managers.

Gana is not surprised to see him setting the English top-flight alight after their two seasons together in Ligue 1 and says that stopping the 28-year-old playmaker will be the key to Villa coming away from Upton Park with a positive result.

Speaking to Villa’s official website, he said: "Payet is a very, very good player - I know him very well from my time at Lille.

"He can make a big difference. If you can keep him quiet you can have an impact on the game.

"I'm not surprised at how well he's doing in the Premier League. He played the same way in Lille. He's a good player.”

2015-16 Premier League TeamGoalsAssistsKey PassesPassing AccuracyTotal CrossesCrossing AccuracyTotal DribblesDribble AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Dimitri Payet West Ham 6 4 57 81% 132 27% 62 59% 16 1,322

Gana, meanwhile, has made 23 total appearances for Villa signing from Lille in the summer and been an ever-present in the Premier League under Remi Garde following the Frenchman’s appointment as Tim Sherwood successor in November.

The lively midfielder, who scored his first goal for the club in the 2-0 FA Cup third round replay win over Wycombe Wanderers last month, has produced some standout performances at times but also struggled to put together a consistent run of form, having admitted that he has found it tough to adapt to the English game in the midst of a relegation battle.

"It’s exciting but very hard because of the results," he told AVTV last week of his time in the Midlands so far. "I’m happy to be here and happy to play for Aston Villa, and I try to do my best because it’s such a big club.

"Now it’s difficult because we are on the bottom [of the table], but we are fighting and won't give up trying to stay in the Premier League."

If Payet is on form tonight, though, then Ganna's side may easily find themselves cut even further adrift of safety come the end of the match.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch