West Ham United threatened to pull the plug on Dimitri Payet’s return to Marseille unless he repaid his £500,000 January salary.
The Frenchman sealed a move back to his former club on Monday in a £25million deal after going on strike to force the move earlier in the window. However, prior to finalising the deal, the Hammers put the transfer in jeopardy, insisting that Payet must repay the club his £125,000-a-week January salary before they rubber-stamped the move.
A club source said Payet had “under protest” returned his salary for January and that it was considered a “deal breaker.”
West Ham co-owner David Sullivan was in bullish mood regarding the transfer and has insisted that he was willing to make an example of Payet.
“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 Sullivan in a club 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.
“I am confident that with the quality of the players we have brought in during January already, the squad will be stronger at the end of this transfer window than it was at the start. We look forward to building on our recent good run of form as we focus on continuing our rise up the Premier League.”
After completing the deal late on Sunday night, Payet claimed that he didn’t need to ‘justify his behaviour’ that pushed through his departure from the Olympic Stadium.
“I was not feeling good in the club anymore. I don’t need to justify my behaviour at all,” Payet said. “Slaven Bilic and I had conversations face to face.
“I will speak about this, but not now. It’s not the right moment. I prefer to savour this moment at a great club and return to that at a later date.”