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Slaven Bilic has every sympathy with Southampton counterpart Mauricio Pellegrino over his transfer wrangle with Virgil van Dijk.

On Saturday Bilic takes his West Ham side to St Mary’s to take on a Saints team missing their key defender, who submitted a transfer request earlier this month.

Saints are playing hardball, insisting the Dutchman will not be sold, but for the time being he remains unavailable to play.

The impasse has echoes of the Dimitri Payet saga in January, when the Frenchman demanded a move from West Ham back to his former club Marseille.

Bilic initially refused but Payet eventually got his wish, although West Ham’s tough stance secured them a £25million fee.

And Hammers boss Bilic admits so-called ‘player power’ has become one of the toughest aspects of being a Premier League manager.

“I know that the power is too much on the side of the players and their agents,” he said.

“The power is massive. And you can’t say that we have to fight it. We have to live with it and we have to try to find the best possible solution for the club.

“That is the best possible situation for the manager as well.

“That’s why I say the football game is very simple but the manager’s job is very complicated. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, on the pitch and off the pitch.

“Of course I have a lot of sympathy. It’s hard for them, and sometimes you are on the other side of the story.

“Sometimes you are in the position that you are getting the player, but it definitely doesn’t help. It doesn’t help the managers.”

Bilic and West Ham are currently also on the other side of the story as they attempt to prise Portugal midfielder William Carvalho away from Sporting Lisbson.

Bilic wants to make Carvalho his sixth signing of the summer but Sporting are reportedly holding out for £40million for the 25-year-old.

Carvalho is understood to be keen on the move, though, and Bilic says Hammers joint-chairman David Sullivan is still on the case.

Bilic said: “I left it to the chairman and the people who are involved. I am concentrating only and totally on our game.

“We will see what happens with ins and outs. It’s becoming very busy at other clubs too.”


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