Bilic: West Ham must keep our best players

Date published: Wednesday 10th February 2016 10:31

Dimitri Payet

Slaven Bilic refused to let speculation over the future of Dimitri Payet overshadow a dramatic FA Cup replay win against Liverpool.

French playmaker Payet is reportedly the subject of a £38million bid from an unnamed Chinese club.

The Hammers are already preparing an improved contract for their star midfielder, despite him only having signed a five-year deal when he joined seven months ago.

But the 28-year-old did not appear to have let the rumours affect him as he supplied the free-kick which Angelo Ogbonna headed home in the last minute of extra time to secure a thrilling 2-1 win.

When quizzed about Payet afterwards, Hammers boss Bilic insisted: “I’ll say it again; we are a club moving forward and the most important moves are on the pitch.

“We must do everything we can to keep our best players, and he is our best player. He’s happy here and very soon we will sort out his situation.”

The tie marked probably the last cup game under the lights at Upton Park, and the famous old ground crackled with an atmosphere it will surely be impossible to recreate at the Olympic Stadium.

The match was worthy of the occasion, too. Joey O’Brien and Payet hit the woodwork for West Ham, Philippe Coutinho did the same for Liverpool, all in the first half.

Michail Antonio’s far-post volley separated the sides at the break, but just three minutes into the second half Coutinho drilled a cheeky free-kick under West Ham’s defensive wall to level.

But with penalties looming, centre-half Ogbonna was thrust into attack and picked the perfect moment to head his first goal for the club.

“It was a special night,” added Bilic. “There’s no harm in saying that, it’s a special night for our club and I’m proud and happy.

“I know it’s only the last 16, but it’s against Liverpool, it’s the last cup game under the lights at Upton Park, and we scored in the last seconds.

“I think it will go down as one of the greatest games and greatest nights in the history of this club.”

 

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