Marseille's Dimitri Payet celebrates his team's victory in the French...

Marseille's Dimitri Payet celebrates his team's victory in the French League One soccer match against Lyon, at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, southern France, Nov. 6, 2022. The 36-year-old midfielder, who arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, is expected to sign a deal with the Brazilian club Vasco da Gama. Credit: AP/Daniel Cole

RIO DE JANEIRO — French midfielder Dimitri Payet was welcomed by 5,000 Vasco da Gama fans upon his arrival in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday ahead of his expected deal with the struggling Brazilian club.

The 36-year-old Payet wore the club's shirt in front of excited fans at Rio's international airport, held a banner with the club's crest and told journalists he is keen to start playing.

Vasco da Gama is yet to announce the signing of the former France international, who did not extend his contract with Marseille.

“I am really happy to be here and see all this passion from the part of the fans. I can't wait to play for them,” Payet said as he took pictures with fans.

Local media reported the club is likely to introduce the former West Ham player to fans at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday before a Brazilian championship match against Atletico Mineiro.

Vasco da Gama is second-from-last in the standings with 13 points after 18 games. Once a major force, the club has suffered with financial problems and has been relegated from the top flight four times since 2008.

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