West Ham United villain Dimitri Payet says he left the Irons for Marseille because he was 'bored' and was playing without 'any pleasure'. Payet left West Ham for Marseille for £25m in the January transfer window and has scored three goals in eight games since returning to the Stade Velodrome.
The France international went on strike at the London Stadium in an attempt to fast-track his exit from the Hammers and says he needed a fresh challenge after being suffocated by manager Slaven Bilic's pragmatic approach.
Payet, who was one of the stars of the Premier League during his first season under Bilic, found it 'difficult' to express his talents under the thumb of the Croat and did not hesitate when Marseille boss Rudi Garcia came calling.
"I no longer wanted to play in a team at the bottom of the Premier League," Payet told The Telegraph. "Our way of approaching matches, I didn't like the defensive system put in place. Playing 4-5-1, I could have all the liberty in the world – it was complicated to express myself. You can say I was bored, yes.
"I was going through matches without any pleasure. Then I had contact with Marseille, especially with Rudi Garcia who has a philosophy I know well. The choice was quick. If I had waited six months, I was losing six months.
"I didn't hesitate. With West Ham at home against Hull (on December 17) we won 1-0 and they hit the woodwork four times. In the changing room, everyone was pleased but the man of the match that day had been the post. I thought I would not progress anymore. On the contrary, I took the risk of going backwards. I needed another challenge."
Payet's handling of his departure from West Ham led to large sections of the club's fanbase cursing his name. Supporters who had previously worshipped the playmaker were abusing him for his decision to leave, but the 29-year-old understands why his actions garnered such a fiercely negative reaction.
"That is normal. They hated me as much as they loved me. It is for that reason that the reactions were so violent. I cannot blame them," Payet added. "During a year and a half, they gave me a lot and I will never forget it. Was I scared? No. It was more complicated for my family."