West Ham have underlined their refusal to be bullied into selling Dimitri Payet at a knockdown price by rejecting an improved £20m bid from Marseille for the wantaway midfielder.
The offer for Payet, a hike of little more than £1m from the Ligue 1 club’s opening bid, is believed to have been rebuffed by Hammers co-chairman David Sullivan.
West Ham's stance followed high-level discussions regarding Payet, who joined the club in 2015, between Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud and Hammers officials in London on Monday.
Sullivan and fellow co-chariman David Gold have both confirmed in recent days that West Ham have no financial need to sell the former Nantes, Saint-Etienne and Lille player and would not be pressurised into a quick sale.
Payet, 29, sent shockwaves through West Ham last week by declaring he wanted to leave the club and was unwilling to play in the meantime, despite only signing a bumper new contract less than a year ago.
That deal, intended to tie Payet to the club until 2021, is worth £125,000-week and made the Frenchman the highest paid player in the club’s history.
Payet quickly became a fan favourite after joining the Hammers from Marseille for £10.7m in summer 2015. He netted 12 goals across all competitions during his debut season and earned a nomination for Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award.
His form during the current campaign has been less consistent. Payet has registered just two Premier League strikes and failed to exert a similar level of influence as last term.
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic broke the news of Payet’s refusal to play for the club at a press conference on Thursday and revealed that he felt angry and let down.
Bilic also insisted that Payet would not be allowed to depart the club during the current transfer window and demanded that he repay the commitment which his team-mates had shown him since he arrived in east London.
The Hammers, however, showed few ill effects from Payet’s absence at the weekend as they eased their relegation worries with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over former boss Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace. That win moved West Ham to 12th in the table, nine points clear of the drop zone.