Andy Carroll says West Ham squad closer following Dimitri Payet transfer saga

31 January 2017 09:24

Striker Andy Carroll says Dimitri Payet's drawn-out departure has brought the West Ham squad closer together.

The French forward rejoined Marseille for £25million on Sunday, having refused to play against Crystal Palace earlier this month in an attempt to force through a move to the Stade Velodrome.

The Hammers won that game 3-0 and then beat Middlesbrough 3-1 to climb into the top half of the Premier League table as Slaven Bilic's side put a slow start to the campaign behind them.

And Carroll, who has three goals in the last two games, says Payet's behaviour had a positive effect on the rest of the team.

Speaking in the Daily Mail, he said: "Do you know what it is? Five or six weeks ago, I sensed something wasn't right among the lads. The team were struggling, we were split in small groups, there were cliques, results were poor.

"Then we started coming together, before the Dimi thing, but then when that happened it was: 'bang!'

"We have to be together, we are together. Everyone started enjoying it again. Everyone started to look forward to coming to training. I can't wait to see the lads.

"It has just sparked something in the dressing room. If he doesn't want to be part of our team, we are still a team.

"We've livened up. Just like it should have been. It kick-started our season. It has been great around the dressing room."

Payet scored 12 goals in 38 games for West Ham after arriving in June 2015, but Carroll believes there is still plenty of quality at the London Stadium - highlighting winger Michail Antonio, who has eight strikes to his name this season.

"We've got other top players," he added. "Antonio has been great. He's scored the goals, played all over the pitch.

"He's been our main player. It's mad. Right-back to centre forward, quality, power, strength - ridiculous."

At his unveiling on Monday Payet insisted he had no reason to explain his behaviour at his former club.

"I don't have to justify my behaviour," he said in quotes reported by L'Equipe. "(West Ham boss) Slaven Bilic has his own opinion about what I did.

"We had plenty of face-to-face discussions, and I know what I said. I wanted to come back to Marseille.

"The stuff that happened previously. I'll talk about it when I need to, but not now.

"If I wanted to play for money, I would play in another country and would do so for a very long time.

"I'm not saying this won't be the case one day, but it's not my primary motivation right now.

"The important thing is playing and trying to reach new heights, as I have always done.

"I was no longer happy at West Ham, I had to come back home. I still have fond memories of the West Ham supporters.

"Coming back to Marseille is a personal choice. I am very happy to come back here."

Source: PA