Jose Fonte wants to leave Southampton as soon as possible.
[ MORE: Conte reveals title rivals ]
Southampton’s executive director of football Les Reed has confirmed Fonte, 33, has handed in a transfer request.
Reed has told BBC Radio Solent that their skipper, who has been at Southampton since January 2010 when they were in the third-tier of English soccer, has made it “very clear” he wants to move on.
“He’s had several opportunities to improve the contract situation. He’s reserved his right not to do that,” Reed said. “He’s made it very clear he would like to explore the opportunities for a transfer. That’s where we are at the moment, Jose wants to leave the club. He’s formally asked for a transfer.”
Reed also confirmed that Fonte has been offered improved wages on his contract and a full year extension on his current deal, but that hasn’t swayed the Portuguese international.
“What was offered to Jose was, in my view, quite significant off the back of the contract he signed in October 2015,” Reed said. “Six months later we were prepared to improve that contract and extend it. He has turned down the opportunity to increase his salary, and he’s turned down the opportunity to get another permanent year on his contract.”
Fonte has been linked with moves to both Everton and Manchester United in the summer after his star displays for Portugal at EURO 2016 alongside Pepe at center back.
This season it has been clear something isn’t quite right with Fonte and new Saints manager Claude Puel and last month he stated that he hasn’t rejected any deal and that the club will not be offering him a new contract.
Fonte’s agent is super agent Jorge Mendes (from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho fame) and it is believed that since EURO 2016 the Portuguese center back has been trying to cash in and find a way out of St Mary’s with both Manchester United and Everton interested in signing him.
The Saints legend didn’t play in a single second of Saints’ UEFA Europa League group stage campaign, the first time they club had qualified for that competition, as Puel said he was rested in his strict rotation policy. Another, more cynical view is that Fonte wasn’t being used so he could join a club still competing in European competition in the knockout rounds.
Fonte is currently contracted to Southampton until the summer of 2018 but it seems unlikely he will stay at the south coast club beyond this month.
He is the only remaining squad player who played for Saints in their League One days.
If when he leaves, it will be an end of an era and a sad end for Fonte and Southampton.
A link up with former boss Ronald Koeman at Everton or compatriot Mourinho at Man United seems most likely but does Fonte really need to to do that for the final few years of his career? If he stayed at Saints he would be a club legend forever. Now, his reputation will be slightly tarnished and for what, a few years in and out of the team at Everton or United? At Everton he would be more of a regular but at United he’d struggle to get ahead of Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Eric Bailly when everyone is available.
Seems like a strange way for Fonte to try and bow out and the main takeaway here is that it has been his long-stated ambition to jump ship since the summer.
Coming off the back off three-straight defeats in the PL, this is not good news for Southampton, especially with big clubs sniffing around for Fonte’s central defensive partner Virgil Van Dijk.