West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic is prepared for Europe's biggest clubs to make a move for playmaker Dimitri Payet after his heroics for France at the European Championships this summer. The 29-year-old has scored three goals and made two assists to fire Les Blues into the semi-final against Germany, and intensify interest from Chelsea and Real Madrid.
The Mirror understands that the Blues and 11-time Champions League winners Real – managed by France World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane – are among the clubs interested in Payet, who moved to the Hammers 12 months ago from Marseille. Payet marked his debut season in England with 12 goals and 14 assists, leading to his nomination for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award.
The Sun estimates Payet's valuation at £45m ($58m), over four times what the east London club paid for him in the summer of 2015, an asking price which may make Chelsea and Real think again given his age and the stage of his career. West Ham co-owner David Gold says the club would struggle to keep him from the clutches of Barcelona or Real Madrid, and coach Bilic has similar concerns.
"As a club manager, when you have a player involved there is added interest and there is no doubt Dimitri Payet has been one of the stars of the tournament," he told The Daily Mail. "I understand that with his success, all the speculation about his future will follow.
"I have even seen one report suggesting I don't want him to do well in case it leads to him leaving West Ham. That is not right. I want him to play great. I want him to score a hat-trick and another hat-trick in the final.
"I know then that the giant clubs will come but I would love him to stay at West Ham. We have texted each other over the last three weeks and he is happy at the club. He is our player. The great thing for him is that he has maintained his high level of performance, which is really difficult when you play at the top level."
Chelsea's new manager Antonio Conte, whose Italy side avoided France before their exit from Euro 2016, will have seen Payet at close quarters during the tournament but it remains to be seen whether he wants to bolster the club's creative ranks. Michy Batshuayi's arrival from Marseille is the only acquisition made by Conte so far this summer.
Conte is yet to officially begin his tenure at Chelsea since Italy were dumped out of the summer finals by Germany. The majority of the club's squad assembled at their Cobham training base for the start of pre-season training this week ahead of Conte's arrival on 11 July.