Despite reported interest from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, West Ham United are the ones who have surprisingly snapped up Euro 2016 winner Jose Fonte from Southampton.
The Hammers have paid Southampton £8 million for the 33-year-old, who joins the club on a two-and-a-half year deal with the option of an added year.
Jose Fonte was reportedly a target for compatriot Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, with the Red Devils being linked with a January move for the player. Their arch-rivals Liverpool are also reportedly on the hunt for a central defender this winter, and there were rumours that the Portuguese veteran could be on the list.
However under-performing West Ham United are the ones who’ve snapped up the Portuguese center-half, with manager Slaven Bilic playing a big role in the transfer.
“I signed for West Ham because they are a great club and a very big club,” said Fonte, according to the official club website.
“They have a lot of fans and I have known for a number of years how passionate they are.
“The manager was also a very big influence. I thought that he really wanted me and that he sold me the project and the ambition of the Club.
Jose Fonte has been an absolute beast at the back for Southampton since signing from Crystal Palace in 2012. In an ever-changing Saints defence, the Portuguese center-back has been one of the few constants.
This season he had forged a strong partnership with another much coveted center-half in Virgil van Dijk, but this rock solid duo has now been tragically separated.
Fonte has clocked over 1500 minutes in 17 Premier League appearances for the Saints in 2016-17. He has averaged 1.5 tackles, 2.1 interceptions and 5.8 clearances per game, which is an indicator of what a difference he makes in defence.
West Ham will be pleased to have added Fonte, as he brings with him a certain steel, experience and good leadership skills. These will be all important for the Hammers if they wish to bounce back from a poor start to the season.
Manchester United and Liverpool won’t be too heartbroken over the loss. At 33 years of age, Fonte provided a stopgap solution at best, something which would not have been beneficial in the long run for either club.