Dear oh dear, Dimitri Payet has been seen training with the U23 squad as a move away from West Ham draws closer with each passing day.
But is the prolonged departure of the Frenchman making the club lose ground on their transfer targets. with the transfer window closing in a couple of weeks’ time?
So, how do you solve a problem like Dimitri?
Although it has became public knowledge outside the West Ham bubble that Payet wants to leave the club, all west ham fans knew at the start of the domestic season that his heart remained in France.
Let’s go back to the summer of 2016, Friday 10th June to be exact, in the Stade de France, Paris.
Dimitri Payet was starting his first game for France and the host nation were leading Romania 1-0 in the opening game of Euro 2016. Twelve minutes later, France concede a penalty, which is cooly converted and the Romanians are looking to cause an upset.
It’s the 89th minute and Dimitri Payet picks up the ball, dribbles past a couple of players, produces a fantastic piece of magic and smashes the ball in the top corner of the goal to win the game, sending France and every West Ham fan to their feet in amazement.
Payet runs to the corner, tears are flowing and his stocky frame is underneath a pile of his teammates.
A touching moment for a player who was heavily criticised by national manager Didier Deschamps, who infact refused to call up Payet as he soon as he signed for West Ham.
But those tears summed up Dimitri’s emotion towards his nation – a nation that had finally accepted him for the player he is. An outstanding tournament for Payet in terms of performances ended in heartbreak by injuring Cristiano Ronaldo in a nasty tackle, a lacklustre display and an extra time winner from Portugal to snatch the cup in the final.
Dimitri’s love affair with Euro 2016 had certainly been noticed by the biggest clubs in Europe, with rumoured £60m bids soon to come West Ham’s way, but the owners clearly stated that it would take bids of around £100m for the club to consider selling him.
Whilst transfer speculation grew, Payet was in Reunion Island and returned to West Ham for the opening ceremony of our new home, two weeks after Ronaldo returned to Real Madrid. As Dimi returned, you just knew he was homesick and lacked the motivation to eclipse last season’s performances.
In brief, West Ham we’re knocked out by Astra in the Europa League qualifiers, playing the type of football that would have us battling against relegation, knocked out of the League Cup by Man United and Knocked out of the FA Cup byMan City. On Thursday 12th January 2017, Slaven Bilic was forced by his own will to inform the fans and media that Dimitri Payet had refused to play for the club again and was effectively dropped from all senior team duties.
I can completely understand why Dimitri Payet wants to leave, there’s no doubt that he wants to return to France, play in front of his own people, speak his natural language and enjoy the French way of living. You can also understand that Dimitri has a beautiful family and as any family-man would know, that if your family is unhappy, you would do all you can to turn that around – it’s clear that the Payet family are unsettled, as they have already moved back to the south of France.
However, to refuse to do the job you are paid to do is unprofessional behaviour by any standard. If you had a normal job and you were unhappy, you don’t turn up to a site or an office and say I’m not working until I leave! You would be sacked or suspended there and then, without pay. Payet is lucky, he has a value above his head, an amount that his employers own, and because of that value and contract he cannot get sacked – but he can be left to rot in the youth system, getting paid £500k-a-month and fined every two weeks.
His unprofessionalism is not down to money, as he stated recently to his close friends. Apparently he would be taking a pay cut to return to Marseille. If it was about money, then he would be off to China in a heartbeat and would play in a failing league structure.
He was quick to sign a new five-year, £125k-a-week deal at the club but in fairness, that was towards the end of last season when we were so close to making an FA cup semi-final, qualifying for the group stages of the Europa League and, of course, before Euro 2016.
So, what is the solution? Football aside I support Payet in doing what is right for his family and ensuring a happy lifestyle – let’s agree, we would all do the same. Now as a footballing solution, I feel Marseille need to offer £30m for the player and put this entire issue to bed.
Marseille have new American owners and can pay up without a problem. The club are trying to get Payet under his current value, and that’s not going to happen, especially as he has such a long term contract. They are either going to agree to get Payet, or tell Payet now that they will not be bringing him back and subsequently cut all ties.
Marseilles need to realise the situation that they have caused by declaring an interest in their ex-player by offering a deal that suits all parties. The Velodrome will see their star boy return, West Ham pocket £20m in profit to invest in the squad and Payet returns to a happy family to see out his playing days.
A gentle reminder that he has been a fantastic player for us the past year and has given us some unforgettable memories. He does deserve his place in West Ham history and must be remembered for the good times on the pitch, not for the one act of unprofessionalism off it.
Au Revoir Dimitri, Nous vous souhaitons la meilleure des chances. Venir sur vous un fer à repasser!
(Goodbye, Dimitri, we wish you the best of luck. Come on you Irons!)