Greed wins as Payet leaves West Ham for Marseilles’ American project
After much pain – not least of all to Dimitri Payet’s poor back – West Ham have sold the Frenchman back to Marseilles. The player hymned by the fans – to the tune of Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus, “We’ve got Payet, Dimitri Payet / I just don’t think you understand / He’s Super Slav’s man, he’s better than Zidane /We’ve got Dimtri Payet” – and of whom his manager said “I have to get poetry lessons to describe his importance to us” took the money and ran ‘home’ to Marseilles.
Joint-chairman David Sullivan has issued a statement to West Ham fans.
The club would like to place on record its sincere disappointment that Dimitri Payet did not show the same commitment and respect to West Ham United that the club and fans showed him, particularly when it rewarded him with a lucrative new five-and-a-half-year deal only last year.
West Ham signed Payet from Marseilles for £10.75m in June 2015. In February 2016, he signed a new deal, extending his contract until 2021. He was on around £125,000-a-week. At the time, Payet said:
“For me it’s a big step, an enormous show of faith, particularly from the Chairman [David] Sullivan and from the manager. I thank them for that, and I am proud and I’m happy to prolong the adventure with West Ham.
“I’ve said it several times, I feel good here, everyone’s done all that they can to make me feel good. I want to help West Ham grow and, once again, this new contract shows my desire and motivation to fulfil those objectives.”
In October 2016, Payet received a £1m loyalty payment.
“I would like to make it clear that we have no financial need to sell our best players and that the decision to allow Payet to leave was in accordance with the wishes of the manager and the interests of squad unity. To be frank, my board and I would have preferred for him to have stayed in order to make an example of him, as no player is bigger than the club.”
So why didn’t they make Payet stay? Does money talks louder than principles. No need to answer. “We have said we don’t want to sell our best players but Payet does not want to play for us,” Slaven Bilic said in January. “We are not going to sell him.”
Payet didn’t come to the Premier League for the love of it. When it looked like he was heading to London, Marseilles lambasted Payet and his agent’s “reckless demands”. The club expressed “surprise that negotiations with another club had been opened”. It can be argued West Ham reaped what they sewed.
Payet had form. As Oliver Kay noted in the Times:
…look back to January 2011, when Paris Saint-Germain were thinking of signing Payet from Saint-Étienne. Sensing that negotiations were not progressing quickly enough as the transfer deadline loomed, the France forward skipped training two days running in the hope of forcing the issue, declaring: “My decision is taken. I think only of Paris.” To prove it, he travelled to the capital on deadline day to try to secure a deal — a move that, in England, we know as “doing an Odemwingie”. Saint-Étienne stood firm, PSG’s interest faded and Payet went back with his tail between his legs.
Now he’s left West Ham to play again for Marseilles, the club funded by new American owner Frank H. McCourt Jr, a man rich enough to pay Payet more than West Ham were giving him. To get £25m for a 29-year-old whose in it for the money represents good business for West Ham. The test will be who they bring in to replace their most exciting player.