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Marseille's Dimitri Payet is pictured during the French League One soccer match against Brest at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, southern France in this file photo from Nov. 29, 2019.

The Associated Press

Marseille’s club president praised playmaker Dimitri Payet for accepting a significant pay cut when signing a new two-year deal until 2024.

Jacques-Henri Eyraud said Payet will slash his reported monthly salary of €500,000 ($768,000) in half next season, then by 30 per cent the following season and 40 per cent to 60 per cent for the two extra years on his new contract.

In addition, the 33-year-old former France international agreed to waive any bonuses linked to qualifying for European competition and to lower his salary even further between 2022-24 if he is not a regular starter in games.

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“Dimitri came to see me to tell me that he wants to be ‘Marseille for life.’ I really liked hearing these words,” Eyraud said. “He explained to me that he wants to finish his career here and then start a new career plan working inside the club he loves so much.”

It represents a considerable change in position from Payet, who initially said that he was opposed to lowering his salary. Back in April, cash-strapped Marseille asked key players to help the club cope with the financial fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic, which brought an early end to the season.

“Who better than me to set the example?” Payet said at a news conference alongside Eyraud and coach André Villas-Boas. “Saying you love the club is all well and good, showing it is better. I really want to be a part of Marseille and help it grow.”

Payet was Marseille’s best player in a shortened season, scoring 12 goals in 27 games over all and helping it finish in second place in the league to qualify automatically for next season’s Champions League – a massive boost for the heavily indebted club amid its financial difficulties.

Payet’s decision to stay is good news for Marseille, amid financial fair-play problems that could yet force it to sell other key players such as winger Florian Thauvin and veteran goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.

Earlier this month, the 1993 Champions League winner was ordered by UEFA to pay €2-million for breaking FFP rules monitoring spending on player transfers and wages.

UEFA’s club finance panel reached an agreement with Marseille to also withhold a further €4-million in prize money if financial targets are missed through June, 2023.

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Villas-Boas will remain in charge next season, which may have influenced Payet’s decision.

“We’re fairly close to each other,” said Payet, who has netted 49 goals over all for Marseille. “We’re similar, both emotional.”

The new season begins on Aug. 22.

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