Dimitri Payet will no longer be the Marseille captain after calling time on his second stint at the Stade Velodrome on Friday.
Overwhelmed by emotions during today’s press conference, the 36-year-old forward bid a heartwarming farewell to the Les Olympiens faithful.
Marseille offered their loyal servant a chance to hang up his boots and join the club’s hierarchy, but the former France international feels he still has enough gas left in the tank.
Payet opened up on the proposal he received from the club president Pablo Longoria to halt his playing career and accept a new role at the Velodrome, explaining why he had to turn it down.
“We spoke before the resumption of training – the president had the merit of being honest,” he said, as relayed by L’Equipe.
“That is not what was planned on my side. The best solution is to accept the club’s decision.
“Marseille offered me to stop playing, to join the club, but I still have ‘ball’ to give – a pleasure to give.”
Payet initially made a name for himself at Marseille.
Between 2013 and 2015, he established himself as one of Europe’s finest playmakers before earning a £10.7 million move to West Ham United.
He had ups and downs in London but still dazzled the Premier League with numerous breathtaking moments of unparalleled quality, only to return home in 2017.
Despite failing to win silverware with the Ligue 1 powerhouse, Payet brought Marseille to the cusp of Europa League glory in his comeback year.
Diego Simeone’s star-studded Atletico Madrid stopped them in their tracks. Inspired by Antoine Griezmann’s double, the Spaniards sailed to a 3-0 victory in the 2017/18 final.
Across two separate stints at Marseille, Payet racked up an eye-catching 78 goals and 95 assists in 326 competitive appearances en route to winning over the Velodrome support.
He leaves the club as one of the city’s icons, while his next destination remains unknown.
Players of Payet’s quality are a rare commodity in today’s football, and replacing him will be tough.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s arrival from Chelsea is unlikely to help Marseille get over the Frenchman’s departure.
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