EPL 2016/17: Manchester United handed January boost in their pursuit of Jose Fonte
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United have received a boost in their bid to sign Southampton and Portugal centre-half Jose Fonte. Mourinho is looking to bolster his defence in the upcoming transfer window as they fight for a top 4 spot in the league.
The Red Devils are already in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup and their continued participation in the Europa League is another factor that requires a quality and experienced defender at the back, especially in the absence of Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling.
32-year old Fonte is a proven Premier League defender and has captained the Saints as well, making him the perfect option for Mourinho and United. He has recently criticised the club for not offering him a contract extension with his current contract expiring in 2018. Southampton had only offered a lucrative pay rise to £80,0000-a-week and not an extension after winning the Euros with Portugal in the summer.
"There's no contract on the table. There was in the summer, they offered me a pay rise. They didn't offer me a new contract. They offered me a pay rise, which I'm entitled to discuss with my agent and entitled to say no to as well. I'm entitled to have my own opinion, so apart from that, that's it,” said the Euro 2016 winner.
Further, there exists tension between Fonte and Southampton manager Claude Puel due to the latter’s decision to leave out the centre-half from the Europa League squad. Fonte has not featured in a single Europa League game so far adding to his frustration.
"Of course I'm disappointed, I want to play every game. I'm fit to play every game. I'm always on the dance floor - I'm always fit. I worked really hard last year to play Europa League. I have to accept the decision from the manager and be ready when I'm called to play," Fonte remarked.
“If I'm called to play Europa League, I will be there, as simple as that. It is frustrating, but it's football. Like the manager said, he wants people to be 100 per cent fit for every game. You have to accept the decision and move on,” added the Saints veteran.
There is additional unease between the player and club due to a reported failure of the club to inform Fonte of Everton’s £9million bid in the summer which would have reunited the defender with former boss Ronald Koeman. Everton are reportedly determined to bring the player to Goodison Park and the upcoming January transfer window could see an interesting tussle between the Toffees and Manchester United.
However, the presence of fellow countryman, Jose Mourinho, at the helm, the pull of donning the United jersey, and the fact that both Mourinho and Fonte share the same agent, Jorge Mendes, should tilt the odds in favour of the Red Devils. With only 18 months remaining on the contract, the Saints would do well to make a profit now than see him leave for a lower fee or for free next year.
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