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West Ham slam Payet; Hammers fans return jerseys

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It’s safe to say that Dimitri Payet will not be welcome back at West Ham United anytime soon.

Probably never.

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Payet, 29, completed his $31.2 million move from West Ham to Marseille on Sunday, ending the saga which saw the French international playmaker refuse to play for the Hammers at the start of January as he wanted to force through a move away from the London Stadium.

He finally got his wish as the Hammers reluctantly sold their star man, with reports from Sky Sports also stating that West Ham made Payet pay back his wages for January before he moved on.

In a statement released by the club on Monday, co-owner David Sullivan slammed Payet’s actions and revealed he and fellow owner David Gold wanted to let Payet rot in the reserve squad to make an example of him.

“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.

“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.”

What did Payet have to say about all of this?

Well, he was unveiled in Marseille on Monday and stated he felt he had done absolutely nothing wrong over the past few weeks…

“I lived an exceptional year at West Ham, I have a great memory of the fans of the club. Going back to Marseille is a personal choice,” Payet said. “I no longer felt well at West Ham, I needed to return to my roots. Marseille is a very pleasant city to live in.”

In a separate yet connected note, fans of West Ham can now return any jersey with Payet’s name on the back and pay $30 to get a brand new shirt with the name and number of another player on the back. West Ham’s vice-chairman Karren Brady confirmed the offer on Monday.

It has been widely reported that Payet has taken a pay cut to join Marseille, with the playmaker earning $125,000 a week back at his old club compared to the new $156,000 per week deal (which was for five-and-a-half years) he signed at West Ham just over six months ago.

Payet sent out the message below on Monday as he headed back “home” to Marseille as the French international rejoins the Ligue 1 giants 18 months after leaving and he has reportedly doubled his wages from what they previously where when he joined Marseille from West Ham in the summer of 2015.

His legacy and image has been ruined after refusing to play for the Hammers and Payet will not be welcome in east London for many years. There is a way to go about getting a transfer and by refusing to play Payet has tarnished his reputation not only among West Ham fans but the wider soccer community.

If he is truly moving back to Marseille for family reasons then that is understandable. Still, he went about securing this transfer in completely the wrong way.

Reports: Barcelona holding talks with Verratti’s agent

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Barcelona has their eyes set on a new Andres Iniesta.

Sure, projecting anyone to meet Ballon d’Or finalist standards is silly, but news that Barca has had multiple meetings with Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti does inspire comparison hunting.

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An influential and creative central midfielder, the 24-year-old Verratti is 8.5 years younger than Iniesta and wowed Barca in the first leg of PSG’s ill-fated UEFA Champions League tie with the Catalans.

Mundo Deportivo, amongst others, reports that Verratti feels life at PSG has gotten stale and that Barca is one of the few clubs that represents a significant jump up in class. He’s also been linked with Real Madrid and Manchester United in the past few transfer windows.

Verratti has a contract through 2020-21, so any purchase will not be cheap considering PSG’s desire to continue growing its status as a UCL contender. The Italian is 21 times capped by the Azzurri.

Klopp talks new Lovren deal, Top Four worries, Watford

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Liverpool announced a new contract for Dejan Lovren on Friday, complete with the requisite “I love my club” comments from the defender.

Then Jurgen Klopp got his hands on a microphone.

The outspoken manager explained that re-signing Lovren to a new “long-term” deal ensures that the Croatian spends the best years of his career with the Reds.

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He also spoke plainly about Lovren’s perceived struggles and successes since arriving at Anfield from Southampton in 2014.

From The Liverpool Echo:

“If Dejan played for another club you would want to sign him – and pay a lot of money. He is 27, the best time is still to come.”

“If you’d asked fans after the Dortmund game they would said give him a 20-year contract. After the Palace game fans would have said ‘can we find another team who will have him?’ Truth is somewhere in between.”

Turning to Monday’s trip to Watford, Klopp isn’t concerned about the chance that his Reds will open the day outside the Top Four if Man City and Manchester United both win at the weekend.

He also says the Reds could have Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge at Vicarge Road, though Jordan Henderson remains out.

Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Bournemouth

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  • Sunderland won 2-1 on Nov. 5
  • Fourth meeting since 1990
  • Sunderland leads all-time 5W-3D-1L

Sunderland looks to keep its faint hopes of Premier League safety alive by managing a season sweep of Bournemouth when the two sides meet at the Stadium of Light on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Black Cats are a mess, having lost to Tees-Wear Derby rivals Middlesbrough on Wednesday and living 12 points back of 17th place Swansea City.

Bournemouth battered Middlesbrough 4-0 last weekend to move seven points clear of the drop zone, and can finish the day in the top half with a win up north.

What they’re saying

Sunderland boss David Moyes on calls for him to quit“I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose. There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”

Bournemouth captain Simon Francis on Sunderland’s woes“It just show how things can happen when clubs are not run properly. If we do lose Sunderland from the Premier League it will be a real shame. They are an enormous club and playing at grounds like theirs is the pinnacle of anyone’s career.”

 

Prediction

The Black Cats haven’t quit, but manage two fewer points than they need, all but heading for the Championship after a 2-2 draw.

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Hull City

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  • Hull won 2-1 on Nov. 6
  • Tigers two points clear of drop zone
  • Saints lead all-time 23W-20D-15L

After back-to-back losses to Man City and Chelsea, Saints meet a different kind of desperation when Hull City arrives at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

With a win, Hull can move five points clear of the final relegation spot and heap pressure on Swansea City, who plays Sunday. With a loss, Marco Silva’s men open the 17th place door for Swans.

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Since the start of the 2011-12 season in the Championship, Southampton has won six of seven matches against Hull. That seventh, however, was the match at the KCOM Stadium earlier this season, one that saw now-West Ham man Robert Snodgrass spur a Tigers comeback.

Saints open the day four points back of eighth place West Brom, and also hold a match-in-hand on the Baggies.

What they’re saying

Saints boss Claude Puel on slump busting“After two losses it’s important to move forward now and take points on Saturday in front of our own fans. We have to improve in the right areas and find a good balance of play, but also a good clinical edge in both penalty areas.”

Marco Silva on Hull’s away troubles““We have conceded goals on the counter-attack away from home in games when the result has been looking good for us – we cannot make it possible for our opponents to do this to us. The second goal we conceded at Stoke is an example of this – conceded at a time when we were in control of the game. Details like this are making the difference and these are things we must look to change. This is clear to me and I pass this on to my players.”

Prediction

Saints have more quality than Hull, but may not have as much fire in the belly. Still, home field means a lot here and Southampton should reverse the score line from November’s tilt. 2-1, with Manolo Gabbiadini and Dusan Tadic leading the way.