West Ham have entered contract negotiations with playmaker Dimitri Payet – but have denied speculation the player was demanding a huge pay increase.
The 28-year-old only joined the Hammers in the summer but has proved to be one of the best pieces of business completed by a Premier League club and has been hailed by manager Slaven Bilic as West Ham’s best player.
Payet, who signed from Marseille for an eight-figure sum, has scored six league goals in 18 appearances and has also laid on four assists to help West Ham to sixth place in the table.
Speculation over the past few days had claimed Payet had made demands for a bumper new deal – something the club refuted before revealing in the same statement that they were now in discussions about a fresh contract for the player.
“Following reports in today’s media, West Ham United would like to clarify that at no time have Dimitri Payet or his agent made any demands to the club over a new contract,” the statement released by the club read.
“However, the club can confirm that due to Dimitri’s outstanding impact since his arrival at the Boleyn Ground, they have initiated amicable and productive talks about an improvement and extension to his contract. Those talks are progressing well and it is hoped they can be concluded shortly.
“Dimitri would like to make clear that he is very proud to play for West Ham United and he appreciates the support he has received from the board, manager and fans since he joined the club in the summer.”
Payet’s consistently impressive displays had already seen him linked with a host of other clubs, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal the latest sides reportedly preparing a bid.
But, with the move to the Olympic Stadium coming in the summer, West Ham will be keen to keep hold of a man Bilic is clearly very fond of.
“The club is moving, with the new stadium and everything, and the most important move is to keep your best players,” he said ahead of Tuesday night’s FA Cup fourth-round replay against Liverpool.
“Dimitri Payet is our best player. And of course I would love to have him happy, long-term, at the club.
“He only signed a few months ago, but he has made a huge impact and while he has a long contract he is in a good position. We all want to keep him for a long, long time.”
— Dimitri Payet (@dimpayet17) February 9, 2016
Shortly after West Ham’s announcement, Payet tweeted a link to the statement and stressed he wants to stay at the club for the foreseeable future.
“I say & I repeat I’m proud to wear the shirt of west ham. My future is here and I hope for many years,” he wrote.