Dimitri Payet has given West Ham a custard pie – and the biggest problem is in the timing

 
Trevor Steven
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West Ham United v Southampton - Premier League
Payet has asked to leave the club this month (Source: Getty)

Long before he told the club he no longer wanted to play for them earlier this month, Dimitri Payet had already given West Ham supporters good reason to be disgruntled with his behaviour.

Payet, an instant fan favourite in his dazzling first season in east London, has failed to live up to those standards this term despite an improved contract – the most lucrative in Hammers history.

The France playmaker is a luxury player: one who frequently delivered last year, yes, but who has had to be carried lately, as evidenced by West Ham’s improved display without him at the weekend.

Read more: West Ham dig in heels over Payet and reject second bid

Now he has committed the cardinal sin in the eyes of supporters: downing tools in the middle of the season – a difficult campaign in which they could use his contribution more than ever.

You could argue that clubs sometimes dispense with players against their will, and that Payet is merely exercising the same power.

But West Ham showed him loyalty with that £125,000-a-week contract and what they have got in return from him is a custard pie.

West Ham's difficult position

It’s the timing of Payet’s actions that cross the line.

He has put West Ham in a very difficult bargaining position: would-be buyers know he wants to leave, and the Hammers must balance waiting late in the window to get the best price with leaving themselves time to reinvest the fee.

Reinvesting could be tricky in itself because rivals will know their eagerness to buy and their budget.

I don’t see why he couldn’t have waited until the summer to ask to leave.

Alternatively, he could have attempted to reach an agreement with the club to leave at the end of the season but knuckle down until then. Instead, I can’t endorse his stance at all.

Payet's reasons don't add up

I have difficulty understanding Payet’s reasons for wanting to leave.

Homesickness shouldn’t be an issue when Marseille is an hour-and-a-half flight away from London – he could make the trip three or four times a week on his salary.

If Marseille really is his favoured destination then he can’t be expecting a pay rise.

It would be a big gamble for them to bump his wages in the hope of getting them into the Champions League when there are a few better teams above them in France.

It makes me wonder if perhaps there is interest from China, where he could earn more.

Could Payet apologise?

So what now? It seems unlikely, but if he wants to win back the fans then he could eat humble pie and apologise.

Not many thought it likely but Yaya Toure has done the same at Manchester City.

For Payet, though, it would need to be before the end of the month, or it won’t fool anyone.

Realistically, however, West Ham will probably have to sell. They ought to get at least £25m for him.

They looked a better team without him in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace – perhaps it could even galvanise the squad as they look to recover their form.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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