West Ham United are closing in on Southampton defender Jose Fonte, with the clubs close to coming to an agreement according to Sky Sports News.
The 33-year-old submitted a transfer request earlier this month and will be allowed to leave in this transfer window.
Talks between the Hammers and Saints continued today with the two clubs close to agreeing a fee in the region of £8 million.
The Southampton captain has been at the club since 2010 when he switched sides from Crystal Palace, the Portuguese international has gone on to play 259 leagues games for the club scoring 15 goals.
The centre-back’s current deal runs out in 2018, and wants to leave St. Mary’s after a contract dispute earlier in the season.
Southampton have lost their last four Premier League games and are set to also lose their club captain this month, with Puel confirming his future is a distraction for the club.
Puel said – The situation of José is difficult for the squad and difficult for him also, it’s not just about this window, I think since the beginning of the season it’s been difficult for José. He is training, working normally with a good spirit and like a professional.”
West Ham are looking to bolster their defensive options after an abysmal first half of the season. The Hammers are in advanced negotiations with Fonte but Tony Pulis’s West Brom remain interested.
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is keen to bolster his central defence options this winter with the likes of Angelo Ogbonna, Winston Reid and James Collins already in the Hammers ranks.
We take a look at how Fonte compares to the West Ham’s most impressive defender, Winston Reid.
Playing in central defence, the main trait which each defender must carry is the amount of tackles they win, and the Hammers man just edges the Saints captain by winning 1.12 tackles per 90 minutes with the latter just behind 1.06.
Another key asset to a defenders game is a number of aerial duels they win, standing at 6 ft 3 it is not surprising that Reid has won 62.30% of his aerial duels thus far this season which yet again puts him ahead of Fonte who has managed 55.93%, which is still very impressive.
There are defensive traits which should come naturally to their game, for example, interceptions and blocks, which both tend to be key assets for any defensive type players. Once again, Reid comes out on top with 3.25 and 0.95 respectively with Fonte managing 2.12 and 0.65.
Although West Ham have lost their swagger and identity thus far this season, Bilic still likes the free-flowing, attacking football which we saw the Hammers master at times last season. In the modern game, managers like their teams to play out from the back and start the build-up play, this is where Fonte thrives, managing 41.18 forward passes per 90 minutes thus far with an impressive 84% pass completion. The Hammers man is considerably behind with 24.31 forward passes and 81% pass completion.
The signing of Fonte would be a very good signing for West Ham United this winter and would hopefully help them towards a better second half of the season. Fonte and Reid could build a formidable partnership at the back and would give Bilic plenty of options for the back four positions. The Euro 2016 winner has been influential in the league in recent seasons, and would certainly slot into the West Ham side perfectly.