London (AFP) – West Ham manager Slaven Bilic says Dimitri Payet will only get his wish to leave the Premier League club if Marseille meet his asking price for the unsettled France midfielder.
Payet is trying to engineer a return to Marseille and has been training with West Ham’s Under-23 squad this week after telling Bilic he wasn’t willing to play in Saturday’s win against Crystal Palace.
The east Londoners are reported to have rejected two bids from Marseille and Bilic insisted last week that Payet would not be sold to his former club.
But with the end of the January transfer window looming Bilic’s stance has softened and he has told French giants Marseille to pay up if they want to secure Payet’s signature.
Payet joined West Ham from Marseille for £10 million ($12 million) in 2015 and the Hammers are believed to want more than double that figure to allow the 29-year-old to go.
“Dimi took his stance clearly. We took our stance very clearly and it stays the same. We are not going to sell our best players on the cheap just because someone wants to sign them or even because they want to go home,” Bilic told reporters on Thursday.
“Is his departure inevitable? I don’t know. What has changed? Nothing.
“I left it with the chairman and I’m sure he’s going to do the best thing. The ball is in Marseille’s court. They are the ones who expressed interest. Now they should act.
“I don’t talk about numbers. All I’m saying is we were very firm, we know the market, we know how good or great he is as a player. Like everybody he has his price.”
Meanwhile, Bilic has been linked with a move for Southampton defender Jose Fonte, but he denied the Portugal international has already had a medical.
“Not a medical,” he added. “Look, I said a few times already I’m not going to talk about names.
“Are any deals close? Close is very relative in football.
“Many times something that looks close doesn’t happen. And sometimes something that looks distant suddenly happens. But in 24 hours, hopefully.”
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