Jose Mourinho might have nabbed the four key signings that he wanted after the capture of Paul Pogba last week, but the Manchester United boss may not be done in the transfer market after all.
That’s according to Miguel Delaney in a report for ESPN, who suggests that Southampton’s Jose Fonte could well end up being the 5th signing of the Portuguese’s summer with his countryman keen on a move to Old Trafford.
“Jose Mourinho is intent on signing an experienced defensive leader and, having scoured the market, the 32-year-old Portugal international has emerged as the best and most realistic option.
United did discuss Leonardo Bonucci with Juventus when negotiating the Paul Pogba deal, but were put off by the likelihood of more protracted talks with the Italian club, while Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane also turned down a move to Old Trafford.
Fonte has been a steady presence in defence with Southampton and was particularly dependable in Portugal’s victorious Euro 2016 campaign, and sources say Mourinho is now willing to sanction a move.”
Delaney also states that a move for 6ft 2 inches tall centre back might be wise, even considering Eric Bailly’s hugely impressive start to his United career since his summer arrival from Villarreal. The Irovian will almost certainly line up for his country in January’s African Cup of Nations in Gabon. The tournament runs from 14th January until 5th February, meaning United could lose the 22-year old for a good 4/5 weeks, depending on the Ivory Coast’s progress in the competition.
A deal for Fonte would also make sense considering that there is uncertainty surrounding the selection of both Chris Smalling and Daley Blind, whilst Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are struggling to get into Mourinho’s squad, let alone his starting XI. Fonte’s abilities are known to Mourinho, and the Southampton captain possesses great experience and could provide the leadership qualities that the former Chelsea coach is looking for at the back.
At 32, Fonte himself appears keen on the move knowing that opportunities to move to a big club might be few and far between as his career reaches its latter stages. Fonte was a key part of Portugal’s charge towards the Euro 2016 title in France this summer, and if United can indeed do business with the Saints for as little as £8m, then expect United to seal a deal whilst sealing the departures of at least one other of the club’s out-of-favour centre backs in the process.