Football

Payet: From Hero to Renegade

Hammers boss Bilic says fans' favourite Dimitri Payet has refused to play against Palace tomorrow

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has revealed that playmaker Dimitri Payet has refused to play against Crystal Palace tomorrow as he looks to force a transfer.

Payet, who cost West Ham £10 million (S$17.5m) from Marseille in 2015, was one of the stars of the English Premier League last season, scoring 12 goals and supplying 12 assists.

He was also one of the best players at Euro 2016, during which he led host nation France to the final. But his form has dipped this season amid speculation about his future.

Bilic has told the 29-year-old to stay away from training, but has maintained his stance that the player will not be sold.

"We have a situation with a player, Payet; he wants to leave," said Bilic.

"As a club, we don't want to sell him."

Reports in France claim Marseille are weighing up a bid to bring Payet back, while Paris St Germain have also been linked.

The player has appeared unsettled in recent weeks and Bilic went on to claim he may have been sounded out by other clubs.

"We have said hundreds of times we don't want to sell our best players. He's definitely our best player," said Bilic.

"That's why we gave him a long contract and then a new contract four months later.

TAPPED BY OTHER CLUBS

"I phoned him about that and he refused to play for us. I have a team to manage.

"He's probably been tapped up by some clubs or whatever. That is usual at this time of year.

"Until he changes his attitude, he is out of the team and he's not going to train with us. But we are not going to sell him, not whatsover."

Despite the apparent stand-off, Bilic insists there is still a way back for Payet.

"I expect him to come back and show commitment and determination to the team, like the team have shown to him," he said.

"I have spoken to the club, the chairman and the vice-chairman. It's not a money issue. We want to keep him. That's it."

The Frenchman's departure would be a major blow to West Ham and their fans, for whom Payet has become a terrace darling.

After a seventh-placed finish last season, West Ham have struggled to adapt to life in their new London Stadium home - formerly the Olympic Stadium - and were thrashed 5-0 by Manchester City in the FA Cup last Friday. They are now 13th on the Premier League table. -WIRE SERVICES

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