London (AFP) – West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has insisted Dimitri Payet has no need to apologise to the London club’s supporters for his controversial return to Marseille.
Payet rejoined the Ligue 1 side on a four-and-a-half-year deal after Marseille paid 30 million euros ($31.3 million, £25 million) to bring him back to the Stade Velodrome.
The 29-year-old — who starred for the Hammers last season scoring 12 goals — had effectively gone on strike at the beginning of the month. He said he would not play for West Ham again and that his priority, and that of his his wife, was a return to France.
As the deal was completed Sunday, West Ham co-owner David Sullivan expressed his “sincere disappointment that Dimitri Payet did not show the same commitment and respect to West Ham United that the club and fans showed him”.
But Bilic, speaking Tuesday, thanked Payet for his efforts on behalf of the Hammers.
“Does he owe an apology? No. I wouldn’t say that,” said the West Ham manager.
“Players are always moving and I’m not going that deep into what he should say or shouldn’t. He is gone, he went home, that was his wish and I will not forget how good he was for us.
“He was brilliant. I was so happy and proud, with my team, my staff, to help him achieve what he did. What he achieved with us was a great story for West Ham, for the Premier League and for France.
“I want to thank him for everything he did for us – he was brilliant last year. We were brilliant for him also. Now that story’s finished I wish him luck and all the best in Marseille.”
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