Saturday 3 December 2016

Arsenal join Manchester United in the race for top Portugal defender

Published 16/08/2016 | 13:22

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Olivier Giroud of France controls the ball under pressure of Jose Fonte of Portugal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Olivier Giroud of France controls the ball under pressure of Jose Fonte of Portugal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Arsenal are reported to have joined Manchester United in the race to sign Southampton captain Jose Fonte, who has been quoted as suggesting he is flattered to be linked with a move to some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.

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Fonte caught the eye in Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph this summer, with the centre-back who is due to turn 33 in December now believed to be attracting interest from two of the Premier League’s big hitters.

Read more: Liverpool reject £30m Crystal Palace bid for Christian Benteke

While Southampton are keen to hang on to their influential skipper, these comments in an interview with Mais Futebol suggest he would be open to a move to Old Trafford.

“If the interest is there, it is a reason to be flattered to be associated with a club like Manchester United, but I have a contract with Southampton, and I'm just focused on my work, to make a great season,” he was quoted as saying.

“I will not deny that Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world and that it makes me happy to be associated with it, but to be Manchester United's player is a big difference.”

Given his maturing age, Fonte would be a short term option for United or Arsenal, but he may be a good value purchase in a transfer window that has seen prices exploding following the influx of cash into Premier League clubs from the lucrative new broadcasting contract.

Arsenal’s interest in Fonte may be something of a surprise as manager Arsene Wenger rarely signs players over the age of 30, but he is in desperate need of experienced defensive cover following injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel.

Fonte’s exit from Southampton would be a hammer blow to the south coast club that has already lost manager Ronald Koeman and attacking star Sadio Mane this summer, with the constant flow of talent away from the Saints doing little to banish their tag as a ‘feeder club’ for the Premier League’s top teams.

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