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Dimitri Payet returns to Marseille amid West Ham fury

© Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP | OM’s new forward Dimitri Payet poses with his jersey, flanked by Marseille's sporting director Zubizarreta (L) and President Eyraud, during a press conference in Marseille on January 30, 2017

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-01-31

France international Dimitri Payet made a record-breaking return to Olympique Marseille on Monday leaving a bitter taste at West Ham United after going on strike to force a transfer.

Payet rejoined the Ligue 1 side on a four-and-a-half-year deal after Marseille shelled out €30 million (£25 million) to bring him back to the Stade Vélodrome.

It is the biggest fee ever paid by Marseille.

“It’s what I wanted. It was clear from the start,” Payet told a news conference after concluding an acrimonious divorce with West Ham late Sunday.

“Thanks to all the staff for doing what was needed. I wanted to be part of this project that is just getting started. It came at a time when I missed France.”

“We’re going home,” Payet tweeted alongside a photo of a small private plane with its door open at Marseille airport.

An angry farewell

The 29-year-old star of France’s Euro 2016 campaign got a hero’s welcome on his return to his former club. But West Ham gave him an angry farewell.

“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-half-year deal only last year,” said joint chairman David Gold in a statement.

“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.”

A fiasco for West Ham

Payet joined West Ham from Marseille for £10 million in 2015 and only last February signed a new £125,000 a week five-and-a-half-year contract with the Hammers, but Marseille President Jacques-Henri Eyraud said Payet “had accepted a signification reduction in pay” to re-sign with the nine-time French champions.

Payet stunned West Ham boss Slaven Bilic this month when he declared he wanted to leave during the January transfer window and refused to play in a match against Crystal Palace.

Payet was demoted to train with the Under-23 side after he was frozen out by Bilic and his team-mates following his refusal to play.

He was erased from their WhatsApp team conversations and excluded from team dinners and had also attracted the ire of the fans.

His photograph outside the ground had to be guarded by a steward at home matches and the fans normal laudatory chant of him was replaced by abuse terms.

"I don’t have to justify my behavior”

The 29-year-old received a warm welcome on his return to his former club, but he refused to apologise for the controversial manner in which he left England.

West Ham had refused bids of £19 million and £20 million, but having signed Scotland international Robert Snodgrass from Hull, finally accepted OM's final offer of £25 million (€30 million).

“It was drawn out because I started my stand-off with West Ham a long time ago. If (the move) hadn’t gone through I would have lived with it,” said Payet.

“But I didn’t feel very good over there. (West Ham boss) Slaven Bilic had his view, but I don’t have to justify my behaviour.

“I had an amazing year in England. It didn’t finish how we had hoped, but I’ll have very good memories of West Ham supporters,” Payet said.

Olympique Marseille

For Marseille, under their new American owner Frank McCourt, Payet represents a notable coup, the player arriving days after veteran French defender Patrice Evra turned up at the Velodrome on a free transfer from Juventus.

Payet arrived in Marseille on Sunday. “After having satisfied the medical requirements Dimitri Payet on Sunday night signed his four-and-a-half year contract with Olympique Marseille,” the club announced.

Marseille are sixth in Ligue 1 following Friday’s 5-1 rout of Montpellier, when former Manchester United stalwart Evra made his debut.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2017-01-31

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