Both Premier League stars are in Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 this summer as they look to win on home soil.
Both have enjoyed fine first campaigns in England, with Martial one of the stars for United and Payet the clear star man at Upton Park.
They are both competing for a place in a packed French forward line though, which boasts attacking talents such as Antoine Griezmann, Kingsley Coman and Olivier Giroud.
And when asked which player should start, Pires admitted he has a slight preference for Payet.
“Both are very good and totally different,” the London Evening Standard reports him saying.
“I have a slight preference for Dimitri Payet. In modern football, set pieces are very important. With a free kick, Payet can bring you a victory like he did against Cameroon.”
The decision is certainly an interesting one for France boss Deschamps to make this summer.
The pressure will be firmly on his team to do well given they are the hosts and have been backed by many to win the tournament.
Their success is likely to rest on how clinical they can be in any decisive moments, and perhaps that will see him choose Payet ahead of Martial as Pires suggests simply because of his free kick ability.