Southampton manager Claude Puel is determined to keep Jose Fonte at the club amid reports of Manchester United’s interest in the defender.
Jose Mourinho, who is keen to sign another defender before the transfer window closes next week, has reportedly expressed a desire to land the 32-year-old’s signature.
Fonte admitted he was ‘flattered’ by Mourinho’s interest earlier this month, but went on to insist that his attentions were directed fully towards his endeavours at St Mary’s.
Puel, appointed just last month, made it clear that he is intent on keeping the Portuguese at the club.
“The situation of Jose is now ready and normal and Jose is concentrate always on his football and his team,” he said.
“For Jose it was important for us, for me, to keep him in the squad because he has a good personality, a good professional and good leadership.
“It’s important to keep Jose. It’s normal at the start of the preseason or after the Euros to have different thoughts but now all is OK.”
With Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Eric Bailly all capable of holding down a regular spot in the starting XI, Fonte – a fundamental aspect of Southamton’s squad – would sacrifice a copious amount of game time if he did move to Old Trafford.
The 32-year-old – a powerful presence in the Premier League since 2012 – has all the makings of an ideal squad player at a club vying for the title: reliable, experienced and physically imposing. However, convincing somebody to swap playing week in week out for featuring sporadically was always going to be difficult.