It is no secret that Manchester United were very keen on Southampton defender José Fonte in the summer. The Red Devils were reportedly ready to pay around £9 million for the player, who is in the twilight of his career at 32. Yet, Manchester United were looking at an instant fix in the defence and Fonte was a player who fit perfectly into the requirements. After having been at Southampton since 2010, Fonte would need no adjustment period in order to excel in the Premier League.
Of course, players like Eric Bailly have warmed up to the English league quite quickly, but the same cannot be said of every player coming in from foreign leagues. A club like United were great financial resources, but not the recent success, was always going to be interested in a player like Fonte.
Yet, Southampton resisted the urge to sell the player despite having sold much of their stars in the last years. It is understood that Fonte was deeply hurt with the decision by the club, as have reportedly gone against their promises after the Euro 2016.Now, the reports from Metro (via Daily Record) have suggested that the Saints have allowed the player to talk with United over a move in January.
A chance to play for a club like United does not happen every hour, and it is especially true when the player in question is 32 years old. Luckily, United have not been able to perform exceptionally well with the players they already have in the squad. After a fantastic start to life under José Mourinho, the club have had only one win in the last seven league outings.
Southampton, meanwhile, are just about doing enough to stay clear of relegation trouble. Manager Claude Puel has been able to deliver results without being spectacular. Even though there were numerous transfer rumours surrounding Fonte in the summer, the defender continues to be a first-team regular for the club. Puel has managed to keep the 32-year-old’s focus on the right things, but it seems that the Frenchman is facing a losing battle. Southampton have reportedly allowed Fonte to discuss terms with Manchester United, although a potential deal still seems far away.
After winning the European Championship with Portugal, Southampton and Fonte are reported to have come into an agreement that would allow the player to take up an offer any club who come in with an improved wage offer. Apart from offering a substantial increase in his wages, United will also offer him the opportunity to win the major trophies even they have managed only one title in the last three years since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
United see Fonte as a quick and cheap replacement for their number one transfer target, Benfica’s Victor Lindelof. The Portuguese club reportedly demanded a €60 million for the 22-year-old and it is being a stumbling block.