West Ham joint-chairman David Sullivan says he would have preferred to keep Dimitri Payet in order “to make an example” of the France international after he refused to play for the club in order to force through a move to Marseille.
The 29-year-old left West Ham for Marseille on Sunday for a transfer fee of £25million, signing a four-and-a-half year deal to return to the Stade Velodrome.
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic openly criticised the winger for making clear his desire to leave London Stadium, kickstarting a chain of events that has finally led to his acrimonious departure.
“The club would like to place on record its sincere disappointment that Dimitri Payet did not show the same commitment and respect to West Ham United that the club and fans showed him, particularly when it rewarded him with a lucrative new five-and-half-year deal only last year,” Sullivan wrote in a statement.
“I would like to make it clear that we have no financial need to sell our best players and that the decision to allow Payet to leave was in accordance with the wishes of the manager and the interests of squad unity.
“To be frank, my board and I would have preferred for him to have stayed in order to make an example of him, as no player is bigger than the club.
“I am confident that with the quality of the players we have brought in during January already, the squad will be stronger at the end of this transfer window than it was at the start.
“We now look forward to building on our recent good run of form with five league wins in the last seven matches as we focus on continuing our rise up the Premier League table.”