20 Jan Fonte close to Hammering a deal
Southampton captain Jose Fonte is on the cusp of joining West Ham in a deal worth up to £9million.
The 33-year-old, the last remaining member of the Saints side that rose from the League One to the Premier League, has made no secret of his desire to move on since winning Euro 2016 with Portugal.
Manchester United were among those linked to the unsettled defender, who is now set to join West Ham in a deal understood to be worth an £8million deal plus a potential £1million in add-ons.
Fonte, who turned 33 last month, had 18 months left on his deal at St Mary’s.
In December the defender claimed he was “informed by Southampton that they are not offering me a new contract”, but club sources say he rejected a one-year extension.
Saints are understood to be happy for the episode to be drawing to a close and the move to east London could be wrapped up as early as Friday evening.
Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho has been strongly linked as Fonte’s replacement, but Saints manager Claude Puel dismissed it as “speculation” on Thursday.
When asked about a loan bid being rejected for the 26-year-old defender, he said: “I know this player but I know nothing about this, it’s speculation.
“We have a reflection about this possibility to see another centre-back if Jose Fonte left.
“For the moment it’s not the situation, and perhaps we will stay with the same squad, with good opportunities for Jack Stephens or (Florin) Gardos.
“It’s a long time with a lot of injuries for Gardos, but he came back for the Under-23s before this game (against Norwich in the FA Cup) with a good level and we will see if we just have Jack and Florin, or you might see another player if Jose Fonte leaves Southampton.”
Southampton head into the weekend 13th in the Premier League, with West Ham a point better off in 12th.