Speculation regarding Manchester United and Jose Fonte has been heating up over the past few weeks with several sources claiming that the Portuguese central defender is keen on a move to Old Trafford. The Daily Star are the latest source to report Jose Mourinho is desperate to sign the defender before the transfer window slams shut – they also add how the 32-year-old is tempted by the prospect of playing his football for the Red Devils.
This comes after Sky Sports News reporter, Kaveh Solhekol, made claims on his Twitter that initially Southampton have no intention of allowing the centre-back to leave and that no offers or inquiries have yet been made by any club, however, interestingly he added it would not come as a surprise to him if Fonte did sign for Manchester United this summer. But, in a press conference, today ahead of Southampton’s weekend clash against Sunderland, the Saints boss, Claude Puel, seemingly dashed any clubs hopes of securing Fonte’s signature by revealing that he feels his captain has unfinished business at the St Mary’s stadium.
“His work with Southampton is not finished, there are good opportunities in Europe and the Premier League and for me, it’s very important to keep Jose.”
Although, Puel hinted at the fact the European Championship 2016 winner’s head had been turned by the prospect of a potential move at the beginning of the rumour mill. However, he added all issues have now been resolved and he is content with staying at the club he is captain of, meaning the Saints fans can now relax.
“He’s okay with this (With remaining at Southampton). He had a good discussion with the director, the chairman and now it’s okay. The fans can be happy because Jose’s staying.”
As we all know, football can be a funny old game and it is difficult to decide whose word is the most trustworthy – there have been many cases where a manager insists his man is staying yet the player eventually departs, after all, money does talk, in most cases. That is not always the outcome and there have also been cases where the managers word has acted as the gospel and the player does indeed remain – however, with Puel being new to the Premier League and many people being unfamiliar with the man in charge at the Saints he is difficult to judge when you are trying to decide if he is all talk, or not. It is worth noting that the Saints manager did seem to make his point with quite a fair bit of confidence.
Jose Fonte was near enough an ever-present at the heart of Southampton’s defence under Ronald Koeman last season and if Manchester United were to sign the defender it would be wise to expect an outgoing or two, in terms of defenders, with Phil Jones and Marcus Rojo being the two most likely candidates. Fonte would for sure be a more reliable option than the injury prone Jones with the Englishman failing to put together a good run in the side for quite a while now, United fans have been crying out for a defender with experience and the Portugal-born man certainly seems to fit that bill since he has played his football in England for nine years in total, plus as previously mentioned the defender also holds honours on an international stage after winning the Euro’s last month.
It remains to be seen whether Mourinho is actually interested in his fellow countryman, likewise, it also remains to be seen whether Southampton will stick to their word – should an offer worthy enough come in. But, should he be wearing a Manchester United shirt come September it would initially seem like a useful and sensible addition by Mourinho and co.