Cape Town - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that he considered signing Dimitri Payet prior to the Frenchman's move to West Ham United.
The French boss did not indicate whether he was weighing up a move for the 29-year-old in the off-season, but did reveal that he had been keeping an eye on his progress for a number of years.
Wenger's revelation comes just days before the Gunners' crucial clash with the Hammers at Upton Park, and with Payet currently enjoying a rich vein of form, much of the pre-match focus has been centered around the potential of the France's interntional adding to his goal tally on Saturday afternoon.
Payet has scored nine goals and provided nine assists this season, making him one of the most deadly attacking players in the Premier League.
"I looked at Payet many times. I've known him for a long, long time," Wenger told reporters. "He was a top talent, always, but had periods of being up and down.
"He played a few years in St Etienne. He has all the attributes to be a top, top player. In fact he already is.
"He is 29 and this year he has matured. He has come back into national team when he looked to be out so that shows he has been more consistent."