Hammers willing to sell wantaway Payet for £40m
West Ham United will reluctantly sell Dimitri Payet for £40m if the French international continues to go on strike and refuses to play for them again, as the club claim he has threatened to do.
Manager Slaven Bilic took the unusual step of revealing his star player's extraordinary behaviour as the 29-year-old's former club, Marseille, try to force through a move this month.
They have already had a bid of just under £20m - plus £2.5m if they qualify for the Champions League - rejected by West Ham, who have pleaded with Payet to stay for the final 18 Premier League matches and have even agreed to sell him then at the end of the season. Payet has refused.
The club insist that Payet is not for sale but may have to let him go if his conduct continues. They still hope he will see sense and understand how he is damaging his career at a club that helped him make the France team and has treated and rewarded him well.
But club sources say that Payet has not been the same since he returned from playing for France at Euro 2016. At that time his representatives are understood to have pushed for a pay rise of around £40,000 a week and a fresh deal even though Payet was awarded a new contract only last February, when he became West Ham's highest-earning player and the best-paid in their history.
West Ham refused the demand while talk of a big-money offer from one of Europe's super clubs did not materialise. The first offer West Ham have received has been the bid this month from Marseille.
Bilic will feel particularly let down given he has supported and nurtured Payet and even gave him time off at the start of this campaign because the player said he was not in the right frame of mind or fully fit. That included the league match away to Manchester City before the international break at the end of last August.
Yesterday, ahead of tomorrow's crucial league game at home to Crystal Palace, and with West Ham desperately trying to pull away from the relegation places in what has been a difficult campaign, Bilic revealed what had happened.
"We have a situation with a player," the manager said. "It is Dimitri Payet. He wants to leave. The club, as I have said so many times before, don't want sell him.
"Until he changes his attitude he's out of the team. He is not going to train with us and I expect from him - because we ain't going to sell him, no, whatsoever, it's not a money issue, we want to keep our best players, and I expect from him to come back and show commitment and determination to the team like the team has shown to him."
According to a club source, Payet informed West Ham on Tuesday that he would "never kick a ball again" for them and followed this up in an emotional conversation with Bilic yesterday, in which he also claimed to be suffering from a back injury. Payet was at the club's training ground but did not take part in any sessions.
The creative midfielder was sold by Marseille in 2015 for an initial fee of £10.7m, rising to £14m with add-ons, and enjoyed a fantastic breakthrough season in the Premier League in which he was nominated for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award as he led West Ham to a seventh-place finish.
Payet was loved by the club's supporters but they will be furious with his current behaviour. The club also feel incredibly let down after he resurrected his career with them. That Payet has performed disappointingly and been so disruptive has hurt West Ham even more given their struggles this season and the difficult move to their new stadium. But it is understood, from sources in France, that he is desperate to return home and accepts he made a mistake signing a new five-year deal.
Payet has informed Marseille, who have received significant new investment under owner, the wealthy American businessman Frank McCourt, that he is prepared to take a pay cut. Nevertheless, it seems highly unlikely that the club will go anywhere near West Ham's valuation.
West Ham would prefer not to sell and will hope that Payet changes his mind.
"He's probably been tapped up by some clubs or whatever," Bilic said.
"That is usual at this time of year." He added: "I spoke to the chairman and this is not a money issue. We gave him a long contract because we want him to stay. We have said we don't want to sell our best players but Payet does not want to play for us - he wants to leave. He's definitely our best player and that's why we gave him a long contract. We are not going to sell him. This team, the staff - we gave him everything, we were always there for him. I feel let down. I feel angry." (© Daily Telegraph, London)