Manchester United are keen to sign Southampton club captain Jose Fonte, according to Manchester Evening News.
The Portuguese centre-back is thought to be a target for Jose Mourinho, who wants to improve upon the defensive options at his disposal.
In each of his games so far, Mourinho has selected Daley Blind alongside £30 million signing Eric Bailly at the heart of the Red Devils’ back four, who have impressed individually and as a partnership: United have conceded just one goal in the first three games of the Premier League season.
Their performances have been so solid that Chris Smalling, who truly grew in stature under Louis Van Gaal’s tenure, has only seen action from the substitutes’ bench. Neither Phil Jones nor Marcos Rojo have played a single minute, and the report links both with moves away from the club, with Stoke City apparently interested in the former.
If the European Championship winner were to move to Manchester, it would be a typical Mourinho signing. When at Inter Milan, he prized 31-year-old Lúcio from Bayern Munich in 2009 and, during his first transfer window at Real Madrid a year later, he signed 32-year-old compatriot Ricardo Carvalho from Chelsea. It has always been clear that the manager values experience in this part of the pitch.
At 32 years of age himself, Fonte, though perhaps not quite as stellar a name as the aforementioned duo, would bring a measure of seniority that has arguably been lacking in United’s defence since the simultaneous departures of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra in 2014.
It is not necessarily that the Portuguese would be starting every match – he would not – but it is what he could offer off the pitch that makes him an appealing purchase.
Having risen through the English leagues and earned the captaincy whilst at Southampton, he could provide a certain authority, a wealth of knowledge to United’s more fledgeling talents and a reliable savoir-faire that Mourinho loves to employ when shutting a game down.
He is not a player who particularly relies on pace, so his age should not be an issue if he were to be regularly called upon, and his game is varied enough to compliment any of his potential colleagues at centre-back.
Mourinho’s defensive signings have not always justified his faith in them, shown by Asier Del Horno, Khalid Boulahrouz, Tal Ben-Haim and Papy Djilobodji, but it is evident how someone of Jose Fonte’s profile could be a good fit, as he tries to build his own legacy at Manchester United.