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 By Ian Holyman

Marseille's Dimitri Payet: I don't have to justify my behaviour after move

Dimitri Payet feels he does not have to justify himself after forcing through his £25 million move from West Ham to Marseille.

Payet was presented to French media on Monday after completing his return to the Stade Velodrome where he has signed a four-and-a-half year contract just 18 months after leaving the Ligue 1 club.

It marks the end of a near-month-long battle between the France international and West Ham, who were informed by Payet he wanted to leave.

After announcing his sale, West Ham joint-chairman David Sullivan admitted he had hoped to "make an example" of the want-away attacking midfielder, who signed an improved contract just a year ago after moving to London in summer 2015.

However, Payet is unrepentant.

"I don't have to justify my behaviour. Slaven Bilic and I had a lot of talks between us, en tete-a-tete, we know what was said. I have no other comment," Payet at his unveiling. "I'd rather savour the moment. I'll speak about what happened at another time, but not now.

"I think the fact that I wanted to change meant I didn't feel good at the club I was at, but it was more the fact of the need to return to France -- and Marseille in particular -- for a project that suited me better."

Payet became a star at West Ham for his performances during his maiden season in England, helping the club finish seventh in the Premier League and earning himself a nomination for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award.

"I want to say that I honestly had an exceptional year with those fans. The story didn't finish as hoped, but for me, I have a very good memory of the West Ham fans," said Payet, who had been banished to the Elite Development squad since refusing to play against Crystal Palace on Jan. 14.

"It was long, because I was missing playing football. Training every day without a match at the weekend was difficult."

Rudi Garcia
Rudi Garcia will play a big role in Payet's future.

Payet, who played for OM for two seasons before moving to England, will get the opportunity to return to competitive football on Tuesday when Marseille welcome Ligue 1 rivals Lyon to the Stade Velodrome for a Coupe de France tie.

Reunited with coach Rudi Garcia, under whom he played at Lille for two years, Payet is looking forward to helping U.S. owner Frank McCourt's ambitious plans get off the ground.

"My choice was clear from the start, I wanted to come back here, be part of the project that is starting," he said. "I heard a lot of trust and seriousness in what the board said. I was missing France and Ligue 1, which meant things went smoothly.

"Yes, of course I thought about it. It was a choice I made, and no-one else made it for me. If it hadn't worked out, I would have done the same as I did at Saint-Etienne, I would have lived with it. I have no problem with that."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman


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