Injured Payet to miss Marseille’s last three league games

MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Dimitri Payet will miss the remaining three games of the French league season for Champions League-chasing Marseille after tearing a calf muscle.

The 35-year-old playmaker limped off during the first half of the Europa Conference League semifinal return leg against Dutch side Feyenoord, which was marred by heavy fan clashes outside the stadium Thursday night.

Marseille said on Saturday that Payet won’t fully recover before the end of the season.

“The hardest thing for me now is not being able to help my teammates on the final stretch,” Payet wrote Saturday on Twitter. “Of course I’ll be right behind them and the whole staff.”

It is a blow for Marseille, which is under pressure to finish in second place to secure automatic entry into next season’s Champions League.

Monaco’s eighth straight win on Friday night moved it above Marseille and into second on goal difference behind champion Paris Saint-Germain, although Marseille can restore the three-point gap with a victory at Lorient on Sunday.

Payet enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career and was on course to beat his career record for most goals in a season — 13 for Saint-Etienne in 2010-11.

With his ability to play as a false nine, or ghost into position as a deep-lying playmaker, Payet is a crucial component in coach Jorge Sampaoli’s 4-3-3 system.

Despite his advancing years he scored 12 goals — his best in a season for Marseille — and had nine assists.

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