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Payet defends actions in securing West Ham exit

Dimitri Payet poses with his Marseille jersey during a press conference at the Robert-Louis Dreyfus Stadium in southern France, on January 30, 2017 © AFP / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT

MARSEILLE, France, Jan 29France international Dimitri Payet said on Monday he didn’t have to justify his behaviour after forcing through a return to Marseille from West Ham for a club-record transfer fee.

Payet rejoined the Ligue 1 side on a four-and-a-half-year deal after Marseille shelled out 30 million euros ($31.3 million, £25 million) to bring him back to the Stade Velodrome.

“It’s what I wanted. It was clear from the start,” Payet told a news conference after concluding an acrimonious divorce with West Ham late Sunday.

“Thanks to all the staff for doing what was needed. I wanted to be part of this project that is just getting started. It came at a time when I missed France.”

Dimitri Payet scored 12 goals for West Ham United last season but refused to play for the Premier League side at the start of the transfer window © AFP/File / Lindsey parnaby

The 29-year-old received a warm welcome on his return to his former club, but he refused to apologise for the controversial manner in which he left England.

Payet starred for the Premier League side last season, scoring 12 goals and being named to the PFA Team of the Year, but when the transfer window opened earlier this month he refused to play as his priority was a return to France.

“It was drawn out because I started my stand-off with West Ham a long time ago. If (the move) hadn’t gone through I would have lived with it,” said Payet.

“But I didn’t feel very good over there. (West Ham boss) Slaven Bilic had his view, but I don’t have to justify my behaviour.

Dimitri Payet scored 15 goals during his first spell at Marseille from 2013-2015 © AFP/File / FABRICE COFFRINI

“I had an amazing year in England. It didn’t finish how we had hoped, but I’ll have very good memories of West Ham supporters.”

Payet could make his Marseille debut, for the second time, in Tuesday’s French Cup clash against Lyon in the last 32.

He had signed last February a new five-and-a-half-year contract worth £125,000 a week with the Hammers, but Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud said Payet “had accepted a signification reduction in pay” to re-sign with the nine-time French champions.