Manchester United have opened informal talks to sign Southampton captain José Fonte, according to a report by Andy Mitten for ESPN FC.
Mitten claims that United manager José Mourinho is keen to add an experienced centre-back to his squad before the tranfer window closes, and 32-year-old Fonte has been identified as a viable option, with a likely price tag of around £10 million.
The report also claims that Arsenal have made contact with Fonte, and could be set to rival United’s interest in the Portugal international.
The Gunners are known to be in the market for defensive reinforcements having lost both Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista to long-term injuries. Their primary target is believed to be Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi, however talks between the two clubs have stalled with the north London club thus far unwilling to meet the Spanish side’s £30 million valuation of the German defender.
Fonte signed for Southampton in 2010 and has helped the south coast club rise from League One to the Premier League, where they have now established themselves as a top half club.
The former Benfica player made his international debut in 2014 at the age of 30, and was a key part of Portugal’s historic Euro 2016 campaign, in which Fernando Santos’s men defeated host nation France to claim their first ever major trophy.
Fonte is thought to have a gentlemen’s agreement with Southampton dating back to last year, in which the St. Mary’s club will allow him to leave if a reasonable offer is received. The player is keen to link up with compatriot Mourinho in what he views as potentially his last opportunity to represent an elite club.
However, Mourinho may have to offload some current members of his squad in order to make way for any new signings. Argentinian defender Marcos Rojo is the man most likely to be shipped out, and some reports have even suggested that Rojo could be offered to Southampton in part-exchange for Fonte.