Dimitri Payet: I left West Ham because I was bored with defensive approach

• France international says he was regressing in Premier League
• ‘I could have gone to war last summer. August was badly managed’

Dimitri Payet has said he left West Ham United in January because he was bored with playing for Slaven Bilic’s team in the lower half of the Premier League table.

The France international joined Marseille for £25m after citing family problems as the reason he wanted to return to his former club and refusing to play for West Ham. Payet, who has since scored two goals for Marseille in six appearances in Ligue 1, was heavily criticised by the cochairman David Sullivan at the time for betraying the club but the 29-year-old has now hit back, telling the French newspaper L’Équipe that he had become frustrated with life in London.

“I had no desire to play in the lower reaches of the Premier League,” he said. “The defensive system that we put in place did not give me any pleasure. With a 5-4-1 in front of our box, I could have had all the freedom in the world, so it’s difficult for me to explain. You could say that I was pissed off, yes. I worked hard in every game without taking any pleasure.

“You could say I was bored. I had had contact with Marseille and most notably with Rudi Garcia [their coach], who had a philosophy that I knew well. The choice was quick. If I waited six months I would lose six months. With West Ham at home against Hull, we won 1-0 and they hit the post four times. In the changing room everyone was happy, but the man of the match that day was the post. I thought that I would not have room for improvement. On the contrary, I risked regressing. I needed another challenge.

“I had given them a warning that I would do it and maybe they thought I wasn’t serious,” Payet added. “Bilic knew that I wanted to go elsewhere. We discussed it at the start of the season when I returned from Euro 2016, but the club closed the door and I respected their choice. When a club announces that you’re worth €100m, negotiations never get far. I could have gone to war last summer. August was badly managed.

“In January, I told them I wanted to go to Marseille and nowhere else. The day they told me no, and that it was definitive, I responded to them by saying I would no longer play with West Ham.”

Payet’s decision to in effect go on strike in January after West Ham’s refusal to sell him was not well received by supporters, with stewards having to stand guard in front of a picture of the forward outside the club’s London Stadium in case it was vandalised.

“I wasn’t scared, but it was more complicated for my family,” said Payet. “Lots of things were said, but I never worried about my car, for example. I continued to live normally. It was to be expected. For a year and a half, they gave me a great deal and I’ll never forget that.”