West Ham Co-Owner Sullivan Opens Up About 'Flawed' Payet, Sale Process
In an exclusive interview with Jim White on talkSPORT, West Ham United's joint-chairman David Sullivan spoke about how the club knew the risk they were taking when they signed the inspired, but 'flawed', Dimitri Payet.
When the Frenchman signed for £10.5m in 2015, it looked like an absolute coup - and to an extent it was. The playmaker and free-kick specialist quickly became a fan favourite, with nine goals and 12 assists in his first season propelling West Ham up the table. He also went onto impress for France at Euro 2016.
However, Payet's relationship with the club soon turned sour, as he requested a transfer in the January window. He quickly fell out with Slaven Bilic and the rest of the squad, and was vilified by sections of the West Ham fanbase. The 30-year old got his move back to Marseille, with West Ham selling for £25m.
In the interview, Sullivan admitted that the club's hierarchy knew the potential baggage that came with signing Payet, but said it was a risk worth taking. "It was a fantastic buy, but we knew we bought a flawed individual and someone who could well go on strike - he had done it all before. We knew Dimitri was flawed, and that's why we got him for £10.5million.
"That's why he never reached his full potential as a player and why big clubs have steered clear of him.
"But I've got to say, he was a fantastic servant for the club. He gave us 18 wonderful months, particularly the first 12 months. We didn't want to sell him, but we got around two and a half times what we paid for him and you've got to say it's good business."
Sullivan went onto say how he personally was keen to make Payet stay until at least the end of the season, but manager Bilic thought otherwise. "We wouldn't have sold him unless we had to. We had meeting after meeting with him - he wanted out and the manager wanted him out. He didn't want to have an unhappy camp.
"It's not what we wanted but, as a club like West Ham, sometimes we have to sell. Personally, I would have made him stick it out for six months and given him a hard time, but if the manager says he's unsettling the whole camp, you've got to support the manager."
Sullivan has been busy this summer, financing moves for Joe Hart on a season-long loan, Javier Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen, and Marko Arnautovic for a club record £25m.