For West Ham fans, the Dimitri Payet saga is over.
The French international has been sold by the club to Marseille for £25 million, marking the end of a brief but spectacular run for the midfielder in London.
The move closes a circle that began with a £10.7 million transfer from Marseille to West Ham in June 2015. Payet was an instant smash for the Hammers, scoring 15 goals and handing out 17 assists in all competition last year.
By all accounts, things were going well. He even signed a new, five-year deal in February of last year that paid him £125,000 a week.
But that was then.
Payet asked for a transfer earlier this month, and refused to play for the club in a Jan. 14 match against Crystal Palace.
Well, he’s gone now. So, let’s break down the for all involved, shall we?
West Ham United
Despite the vitriol from co-chairman David Sullivan, the club was correct in selling Payet back to Marseille.
Still, Sullivan’s comments are enlightening.
“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,” he said. “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.”
All of that aside, sending him back to France — at a tidy profit, by the way — was the only choice the club had.
Payet had already bailed on manager Slaven Bilić, and allowing such a player to be around the team fosters an atmosphere that isn’t exactly helpful to team spirit and unity.
And, honestly, once word got out that he refused to play, the fans weren’t likely to forgive him, either.
There likely isn’t time to reinvest the funds from the sale in the club in this window, but West Ham could be a little more active during the summer with an extra £25 million in the bank.
American businessman Frank McCourt (the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers) is throwing money around in France these days, so writing a check to West Ham wasn’t a big strain on the French club’s budget.
Still, it has bought back a player a year after selling him at nearly a £15 million loss.
Payet will turn 30 in March and hasn’t played since appearing as a substitute in West Ham’s 5-0 FA Cup loss to Manchester City on Jan. 5.
It’s possible that he can shake off the rust and help his new club close the four-point gap that currently separates it from a Europa League place, but it’s more likely that his biggest potential impact for Marseille will come in the form of a Champions League push next season.
It’s easy to paint him as the villain in this scenario, but there’s likely more here than meets the eye.
The Frenchman became a household name last season, then parlayed that success into a spot on France’s Euro 2016 side. He had a taste of a larger stage, and maybe he liked it.
There’s also speculation that Payet signed his new deal with the understanding that the club was going to bolster the squad around him. That inaction would explain his sudden change of heart during this transfer window.
He’s not going to get the benefit of the doubt from West Ham fans, but should he recapture his form from last year, no one in Marseille is going to care how he acted on his way out of London.