News has emerged from Southampton that club captain, Jose Fonte, has handed in a transfer request. With 18 months left on his contract that he signed in October 2015, it has been claimed by the player that he was not offered a better deal by the club. With no formal bid for the player yet, it is unclear when he’ll leave or for how much, it will also force Saints to move for another central defender during the transfer window.

Fonte helped Portugal win the European Championships for the first time in their history last summer, and was subsequently linked with a move to Manchester United after the arrival of Jose Mourinho.

Contradicting statements

The Southampton director of football, Les Reed, said the player was offered a better deal by the club, insisting that Fonte had several opportunities to improve the situation in regards to the contract. But Reed conceded that Fonte made it clear he wanted to “explore the opportunities for a transfer.”

However, Fonte wrote on his Instagram he wanted to “set the record straight” and that he “did not reject a new contract” but that Southampton “are not offering me a new contract”.” This directly contradicts the statement from the director of football who insisted that new and significant improvements of terms were offered to the player, formerly of Benfica.

What next for Fonte and Saints?

Whether he will leave in this transfer window is very much undecided but it looks glaringly obvious that if he were to stay, there would be questions over his motives. Will Manchester United place a bi for him, even though they have been better defensively with the re-emergence of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, after the two made a good defensive pairing throughout December.

With Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly returning when they were fully fit, it looks as if Mourinho has a solid foundation of defenders. But with Bailly going to the African Cup of Nations, it could be a short-term option for Mourinho, as Fonte is likely to be in the twilight of his career.

Another possibility could be Liverpool, who have displayed severe defensive frailties at the back throughout the season, often conceding goals that should have been stopped.

As for Southampton, they must begin the search for potential replacements, because he has been a mainstay for the last 6 seasons and has often calmed the club through the multiple changes of management within that time