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Last week witnessed the beginning of Dimitri Payet's boycott of West Ham United.
Since starting at West Ham last year, Payet has been the team's most valuable asset, scoring an impressive 15 goals in 60 appearances. In February 2016, Payet signed a new contract which would see him remain at West Ham until 2021. After continual success he received a £1m loyalty bonus in September. For West Ham manager Slaven Bilic this seemed a fantastic investment, allowing him to secure a world class player until the end of the decade. However, unlike other economic investments, a football player should not be sold if only the club profits.
Payet has three children below the age of ten, so his move from France had significant consequences for both his lifestyle and family.
Even from a purely economic perspective perhaps Payet was not the best investment. Payet has had a history of being stubborn. In 2011, while at Saint-Etienne, Payet tried to force the club to sell him to Paris St Germain. This resulted in a fine and he was forced to the reserves until he was made to apologise or risk losing his contract completely.
Bilic will hope that Payet's boycott has the same outcome. The increasing monetary importance in football is concerning especially with the emergence of new leagues that can pay unfathomable sums. Payet has been offered £500 000 per week from three Chinese teams in the last week. Furthermore, with Oscar moving from Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG for a £52m fee it seems that footballers are increasingly seen as commodities.
With increasing prices and funding in football, the economics has now outstripped the play. With Paul Pogba priced at £89.3m and matches rotated everyday in holiday periods (Premier League games took place daily from 26 December 2016 to 4 January 2017), player's personal concerns are now background music to the price on their heads. Bilic's comment that "we know the market. Like everybody, he has his price." , shows that football's discourse has become completely mercantile.