Bilic: Payet won't play, train at West Ham until attitude about transfer changes
LONDON (AP) — Dimitri Payet is not for sale, according to West Ham manager Slaven Bilic.
The France midfielder said he no longer wants to play for the Premier League club, but Bilic urged Payet to show the same "commitment and determination" West Ham did by giving him a new contract through June 2021 last year.
"We gave him a long contract because we want him to stay," Bilic said Thursday. "We have said we don't want to sell our best players but Dimitri Payet does not want to play for us. We are not going to sell him.
"That's why we gave him a long contract, and then a new contract four months later," Bilic said. "I phoned him with that and he refused to play for us."
The 29-year-old Payet joined from Marseille in June 2015 and made a huge impact on the club last season, helping it to finish seventh in the Premier League with his array of tricks and goals from free kicks.
This season, his performances have dipped and West Ham is in 13th place in the 20-team Premier League as it endures a difficult start to its tenancy at the Olympic Stadium in London.
Still, Payet's outstanding performances from last season and his rare ability to win games make him highly sought after.
"He's probably been tapped up by some clubs or whatever," Bilic 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."
Although Bilic is adamant that Payet will stay, he is leaving him out until further notice.
"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," Bilic said. "I expect from him to come back and to show commitment and determination to the team like the team has shown to him."
On the back of his performances last season, Payet broke back into the France team and was a key player in the side that reached the European Championship final, losing to Portugal in extra time. He scored three goals at Euro 2016, further raising his profile.
Payet played two seasons for Marseille but, at the time of his transfer, said he was unhappy to be sold and wanted to stay.
In an interview last month with French cable channel SFR—which has the exclusive rights in France to show the Premier League—Payet hinted that he would be happy to return to the southern port city.
"I'm not closing the door on anything," Payet told SFR in late December. "I think that Marseille has a new project that seems to be interesting."
Marseille was bought in October by American businessman Frank McCourt—the former owner of baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers—who pledged to invest 200 million euros ($220 million) over the next four years.
"Of course, we're waiting to see the first actions of the new owners," Payet told SFR. "But everyone knows my attachment to this club and I speak very highly about (the club) because that's what I think. So, why not?"
Still, it would prove very costly for Marseille to buy Payet, who has long left on a contract reportedly worth more than 600,000 euros ($640,000) per month.