West Ham United playmaker Dimitri Payet has made it clear to manager Slaven Bilic that he no longer wants to play for the club, amid rumours that Arsenal and Olympique de Marseille are keen on signing the France international.
Bilic revealed the news in a press conference on Thursday ahead of his team's Premier League match against Crystal Palace on Saturday, as shared by West Ham's Twitter account:
Kieran Gill of the Daily Mail added further information from the Hammers boss:
There are likely to be several suitors for Payet. Arsenal are among the leading contenders, according to James Andrew for MailOnline, while Marseille are also keen on making a move, per L'Equipe (via Andrew Richardson for The Sun).
Payet confessed his interest in a move to the Emirates Stadium in late December when speaking to French radio station RMC (h/t Andrew):
I read that Wenger considers me the missing piece of the Arsenal's game, but he's never told me that.
We conceded five or six at home against them. When you see them playing, as a technical player, you could only have fun in that team. They're candidates for the title every year.
Ongoing issues regarding Mesut Ozil's contract negotiations make Payet an intriguing option for Wenger, although Bilic does not expect the club to sell the Frenchman anytime soon.
He also added that Payet will not be with the first team for the time being and even suggested that transfer rules may have been broken, per Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports:
Alongside Arsenal, the other primary contenders for his signature are Marseille, the club Payet left in 2015 to join West Ham. At the beginning of January, L'Equipe (h/t Richardson) reported that the French outfit will have to part with £30 million to reunite with a player they were forced to sell.
Their money problems are resolved, and both player and club are interested in the deal, as football writer Robin Bairner highlighted on Twitter:
Payet's departure would be a major blow for West Ham, whose first season at London Stadium has been disastrous. Three successive league victories in December eased the pressure on Bilic, but his side remain just seven points above the relegation zone.
Having scored twice and assisted six times in the league this season—Payet has therefore been involved in 35 per cent of the team's goals—he is a vital asset in the fight for survival.
Upcoming matches against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough are crucial for West Ham, so news of Payet's disruptive request is badly timed.
Bilic's decision to openly discuss Payet's intentions could be considered a gamble, but Daily Mirror writer John Cross thinks it was the right thing to do:
Since Payet's talents are admired throughout England and beyond, news that he is unhappy at the club could trigger a flurry of bids in the coming weeks.
Not only do West Ham need to fend off these approaches, but they must find a way to ensure Payet acts in a professional manner if and when he returns to the pitch. Their place in the Premier League may depend on it.