West Ham United playmaker Dimitri Payet is seemingly not ruling out a potential return to former club Marseille. The influential French international has flourished since leaving the Stade Velodrome in a £10.7m ($13.2m) deal back in June 2015, establishing a reputation as comfortably one of the Premier League's most exciting and dynamic attacking midfielders.
Having notched 15 goals and registered 17 assists during a wonderful debut campaign in English football, the 29-year-old was rewarded for his fantastic domestic form in February with a new five-and-a-half year deal believed to be worth a cool £125,000-per-week. However, despite his obvious importance, West Ham's alarming regression under Slaven Bilic since their high-profile summer switch to London Stadium has provoked fears that he might be tempted to move elsewhere.
A possible reunion with Marseille has been mooted alongside reported interest from Manchester United and struggling French champions Paris Saint-Germain. L'OM, subject to a successful €45m takeover from American businessman Frank McCourt earlier this year, appointed Rudi Garcia as permanent successor to Michel in October after the former Lille and Roma head coach expressed a bold intention to win the Champions League.
Marseille initially languished in mid-table under interim boss Franck Passi, although have now moved into the Ligue 1 top six ahead of Wednesday's (21 December) trip to Bastia courtesy of three consecutive wins over Nancy, Dijon and Lille. Such sweeping change – McCourt pledged to invest €200m over the next four years – has evidently injected the club with a much-needed dose of fresh ambition. Payet, whose status as one of the world's top 20 players was reinforced by his recent joint-17th place finish alongside Real Madrid pair Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in voting for the 2016 Ballon d'Or award, appears suitably intrigued by their new direction.
"I am not closing the door to anything," he told SFR Sport.
He added: "Marseille have a new project which seems interesting. Aside from that, we are obviously waiting to see the first few things that the new owners do, but Marseille knows how attached I am to the club. When I talk about it, I say the best possible things, because that is what I think, so why not."
West Ham would surely be distraught to lose a player of Payet's ability and remain defiant that he will not be heading through the exit door. Addressing that particular issue in November, co-chairman David Sullivan said: "Dimi signed a new long-term contract in February, pledging his future to this club, and it is very much our intention that he remains with us for years to come."
Payet has been involved in 10 goals for West Ham so far this term, scoring against Accrington Stanley, Middlesbrough and Liverpool. Bilic's unconvincing side sent Hull to the foot of the table and sealed consecutive top-flight wins at their new ground for the first time on Saturday (17 December) thanks to a contentious second-half penalty from captain Mark Noble.