Jose Fonte wants to move to Manchester United, if reports from last week are to be believed. The Portuguese has been a mainstay for Southampton during their rise from League One to an established force in the Premier League, and at 32, the opportunity to play for a club as big as United won’t likely come around again. In the context of his career, it really is a case of now or never.
The Daily Star have reported that Fonte has sat down with Southampton’s chairman and directors about the move, who are understandably less than keen to lose the club’s captain so late in the transfer window. Not only that, but the culture of Southampton selling their best players over the last few years to clubs with a greater financial outlay must grate, and at some stage, if the club hopes to develop and start to challenge those teams above them, they will have to change the culture of selling that has seen Luke Shaw, Saido Mane, Nathaniel Clyne and Calum Chambers leave the club in the last few years, to name a few.
For Fonte, the lure of United is clear. A chance to play for one of football’s biggest club’s doesn’t come around often, and as mentioned, at 32, and having helped Portugal to glory in Euro 2016 this summer, Fonte’s stock has arguably never been higher. News of Arsenal’s interest certainly makes the decision a little more difficult, given that Arsene Wenger has a defensive crisis at centre back that would provide Fonte with a chance to cement a first-team spot from the off, whilst there’s also the lure of Champions League football to consider. But the fact remains that Mourinho is far better placed to deliver trophies this year than Wenger is at The Emirates.
If Fonte joins United, then he will have competition. Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Daley Blind are already prepared to provide competition for the two available centre back slots, and that isn’t even considering the presence of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones, both of whom remain on the periphery of the defensive picture having failed to convince Mourinho to give them a chance so far this season. But given Fonte’s age, his experience and his leadership as evidenced by holding the captain’s armband at Southampton, Fonte clearly has plenty to offer United, and if Mourinho genuinely wants his countryman to join Old Trafford, then it’s not difficult to imagine a deal being done.