During the January transfer window, one of the weirder transfer rumours that popped up was a brief story sending Dimitri Payet back to West Ham.
It’s not that it was impossible, since the player has already spent time with the Hammers and excelled there, but it seemed incredibly unlikely and appeared mostly fuelled by the appointment of Paul Aldridge as advisor to the Ligue 1 club’s president, Jacques-Henri Eyraud.
We covered it because it featured in L’Equipe, but never believed it, and we were right to do so, as Payet remained in Marseille with no West Ham bid ever being made.
Speaking to the media in a press conference ahead of Marseille’s fixture against Saint-Etienne, he said of the rumour, relayed by Foot Mercato: “I read it, just like you. Everyone knows my attachment to the club [OM], so it’s not really an issue.”
However, the forward made it clear that he could leave the south of France in the summer if the Ligue 1 side didn’t make the right moves going forward to match his and his manager’s, André Villas-Boas, ambitions.
He continued: “I think it’s rather clear in my head. Everyone knows why I came back. The goal is to get Marseille back in the Champions League. Qualifying for it is good, playing in it is better. If it’s to qualify and not have the team to play it in good conditions, I will ask myself the question to see if I stay or if I go look elsewhere.
“I spoke about it with the manager, of course, but not with the president. It’s not exactly an exceptional reflection. It’s just common sense. Qualifying and having a good go. I’m not speaking of winning it, but getting out of the group stages would already be exceptional, but for that you need a squad.
“Right now, in terms of numbers, we aren’t capable of doing that. The right questions will need to be asked. Who does what and take your responsibilities during the next transfer window.”
At 32 years of age, it would be interesting to see who would be willing to take on Payet and his hefty wages, but the forward has been in good form so far this season with Marseille, scoring nine goals and assisting his teammates five times in 21 appearances.