'Of course I'm disappointed' - Jose Fonte reveals frustration at Claude Puel's Southampton rotation policy
Southampton captain Jose Fonte has revealed his frustration with manager Claude Puel’s rotation policy ahead of Thursday’s make or break Europa League match against Hapoel Be'er Shava.
Fonte, who refused to sign an improved contract offer earlier in the year, would be available at the right price in the January transfer window and is unhappy to have not been involved in the Europa League after his pivotal role in Southampton’s journey from League One in 2010 to matches this season against Inter Milan.
“Of course I’m disappointed,” he said. “I want to play every game. I’m fit to play every game. I’m always on the dance floor – I’m always fit. I worked really hard last year to play Europa League.
“I worked really hard and obviously I’m disappointed, but I have to accept the decision from the manager and be ready when I am called to play. If I’m called to play Europa League, I will be there, as simple as that. It’s a massive game [Hapoel] and I’m ready. We need to win this game.”
Fonte, who will turn 33 later this month, received the offer of a pay-rise during the summer but no extension to a contract that expires in 2018 amid interest from Manchester United and Everton.
Southampton offered to make him one of their top earners on around £70,000-a-week even after he had signed a new three-year deal the previous summer that was worth around £45,000, but they are not prepared to extend the time on his contract. In line with many leading clubs for players into their thirties, they would simply expect to review the situation next season.
Fonte, who was part of the Portugal team that won Euro 2016, refused that salary increase and is presumably hoping for a longer deal. There have been no formal outside offers, however, and Southampton would not let him leave mid-season without a significant transfer fee that would allow them to find a replacement. Whether Manchester United or Everton would now be willing to pay a sizeable fee, as well as offer a longer contract, for a player into his thirties must be doubtful.
“There’s no contract on the table,” said Fonte. “It is what it is, there’s nothing on the table that I didn’t sign. There was nothing there, to be honest. There was in the summer, they offered me a pay rise. They didn’t offer me a new contract.
“They offered me a pay rise which I’m entitled to discuss with my agent and entitled to say no to as well. I’m entitled to have my own opinion, so apart from that that’s it.”