Manchester United have been a major player in this year’s summer transfer window, bringing in talent across numerous positions as Jose Mourinho has built a team he believes can contend for the 2016-17 English Premier League title.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba in the fold already, the United attack has undergone significant improvement, as was evident by their 2-0 victory over Southampton at Old Trafford on Friday night.
However, Mourinho also wants to see quality and depth added to his defence.
Though the signing of Villareal’s Eric Bailly already looks to be a good piece of business, Jose is reportedly still on the lookout for another central defender to add to his squad, with Southampton captain Jose Fonte a heavily rumoured target. The Portuguese centre-back has been in fine form over the past few seasons, leading a competitive Saints squad in the Premier League and also being a part of his home nation’s improbable victory in Euro 2016.
Joining Southampton in January of 2010, Fonte has been crucial in helping to guide the club from League One to the English top flight, but with his current contract expiring at the end of this season, Southampton may look to gain something financially from his move before he can leave as a free-agent next year.
Now that’s where the Special One and his United team come in, and both the player and his potential suitor crossed paths on the pitch on Friday night.
Manchester United’s defence has looked sharp thus far in the young Premier League season, with Eric Bailly and Daley Blind looking composed and disciplined in their first two performances. Every top club requires depth, and Mourinho is clearly of the opinion that Fonte can be an excellent addition to the Red Devils.
Here, we look at what Jose Fonte can bring to United’s backline.
Premier League and International Experience
With over 130 Premier League appearances and more than a decade in the professional game, Fonte would bring in vast experience to Manchester United. In central defence last season, Fonte appeared in all but one of the Saints’ Premier League matches and was integral to their sixth-place finish in the table.
Averaging 1.4 tackles and 2.2 interceptions throughout the campaign, Fonte was also able to add two goals and an assist at the other end of the pitch. His experience at this level will allow him to integrate into any squad quickly, while his tactical knowledge and vision make him a solid defensive option for a side even of United’s calibre.
Crucially, Fonte also has experience of playing internationally and was a major contributor to Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph over the summer. The 32-year-old has achieved 16 caps for the national team since making his senior debut in 2014.
After being named the captain of Southampton ahead of the 2014-15 season, Jose Fonte also has valuable leadership experience.
Fonte’s strong influence both on and off the pitch at Southampton is said to have aided several players such as Nathaniel Clyne, Luke Shaw and Morgan Schneiderlin who have all benefited from his tutelage. His addition to Manchester United could see the performances of other players around him significantly improve, and a move would also see him reunited with Shaw and Schneiderlin who both now play at Old Trafford following moves from the Saints themselves.
Jose Fonte’s work rate is certainly one of his most impressive attributes. Always working to assist in the midfield as well as deeper in his own half, the veteran shows no signs of slowing down.
His presence can allow for midfielders such as Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera to go forward more in the attack, as Fonte can cover quite a bit of ground on his own.
With a busy campaign expected ahead due to United’s involvement in the UEFA Europa League, Manchester United and Jose Mourinho will want to ensure that the club’s depth at all positions is as strong as possible. For central defence, that goal can be accomplished with the transfer of Jose Fonte.