West Ham United have denied claims Dimitri Payet's agent demanded a huge wage increase that sparked a "contract war" with the club amid reports Arsenal are interested in signing him.
According to an exclusive from the Sun's Andrew Dillon, Payet's representatives want the Frenchman to be given a £125,000-a-week contract—almost double his current wages—but as the midfielder only signed a five-year deal last summer, the Hammers' hierarchy have been left "fuming" by the demands.
Per Metro's Jamie Sanderson, in light of Dillon's report, "Arsenal are keen on snapping him [up] if the Hammers refuse to meet those demands."
The club are determined for Payet to stay put, though, as Dillon further noted a West Ham "insider" revealed: "It’s unheard of for a player’s agent to ask for a pay rise after only six months at a club. The player’s caught in the middle of it. The club aren’t happy. But whatever happens, Payet will not be sold."
Dillon also reported Hammers manager Slaven Bilic is hoping to keep the playmaker, as he recently said: "I’d love to have Dimitri long term."
In a statement made on the club's official website, West Ham refuted the claims—which the player reiterated on Twitter:
It's hardly surprising the 28-year-old has caught the attention of the Premier League's elite, as he has had a marvellous impact on the Irons since arriving from Marseille in the summer.
In 18 matches, the midfielder has scored six goals and assisted four, and one would expect both tallies to be even higher had he not had a lengthy layoff in November and December.
Jason Burt of the Telegraph and Darren Lewis of the Mirror noted the impact his absence had on the Hammers, per BT Sport Football:
Meanwhile, Match of the Day host Gary Lineker believes Payet was one of the best bits of business done in the Premier League last summer:
According to Squawka, Payet has created an outstanding 65 chances in the league this season and completed 45 take-ons.
With the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and plenty of other creative midfielders to call upon, the Gunners have no desperate need for Payet, though, so unless one leaves, it seems unlikely the club will pursue him, regardless of his contract situation.
Arsenal are in need of a clinical striker, though, and they're set to rival Liverpool for the signature of former Manchester United hitman Javier Hernandez, according to Joe Rimmer of the Liverpool Echo.
The Mexican was let go by United last summer and has been scoring for fun at Bayer Leverkusen, where he has finally been given time on the pitch to showcase his talents, netting 21 goals already.
Per Squawka, the ruthless forward has won the Bundesliga's player of the month three times in a row:
Quick, clinical and deadly in the penalty area, Hernandez would likely thrive with the Gunners, who have created the fourth-highest number of chances in the league this season, according to Squawka.
They could have a difficult time prising him away from Leverkusen, though, as he only joined last summer and is enjoying plenty of game time.