Southampton have been rocked by the news at Jose Fonte has handed in a transfer request. The news broke on Thursday with the 33 year old signalling intentions for a move away from St Mary’s after spending 7 years at the club.
With his defensive partner Virgil Van Dijk also in hot demand this month, this news will come as a major blow to Claude Puel as he now could lose not just one but both of the two centre backs that have impressed throughout the first half of the season.
After winning the European Championships with Portugal last Summer, Fonte was repeatedly linked with a move to Manchester United and a chance to link up with compatriot Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. That move never came to fruition but with this development it now once again becomes a distinct possibility.
The club are yet to receive any concrete bids but with Fonte now seemingly looking to force a move away from the South Coast then it should be a matter of time before Manchester United and other clubs for that matter declare the interest in the Portuguese defender.
The question you have to ask yourself is why now? Well the rumours of Fonte’s departure from the club have not gone away since the Summer and his performances for Southampton have only helped fuel the rumour mill in regards to his status at the club.
There are perhaps some parallels to the move that Ashley Williams made to Everton in the Summer. Williams for so long a servant of Swansea felt that he was approaching the age that if he was not to move on then he would miss the opportunity to play for a bigger club. One that perhaps that his talents truly deserves.
And the same could arguably be said for Fonte as he approaches the twilight years of his career. After joining from Crystal Palace in 2010 when the club was in League One he has seen the club earn two promotions and once again become an established top flight side.
With 18 months left on his deal, Southampton are not necessarily in a rush to move Fonte on but at that same time it’s hard to envisage a situation in which he stays for the duration of his current deal. What makes the story more compelling is the apparent refusal to sign a new one.
That is something the player himself denies but Les Reed has been quoted as saying “What was offered to Jose was, in my view, quite significant off the back of the contract he signed in October 2015” So one of these two parties is not telling the truth and will this now lead to an acriminous split from the club for the former Benfica defender.
Southampton fans will obviously be frustrated that their Captain has handed in a transfer request but then again they will probably not be all that surprised either. If and when Fonte does depart he will be the latest in a very long line of talent to have moved on from St Mary’s in the past 3 seasons.
This transfer window was an opportunity for Claude Puel to make additions to the squad as his side to look to be the best of the rest in the Premier League with the Top 6 all but sewn up already. It now seems like a new Centre Back will become a top priority as there could be a very large gap to fill.