West Ham United have reportedly entered the race to sign Southampton centre-back Jose Fonte. The Euro Cup-winning defender has tipped to leave the club in the ongoing transfer window and was heavily linked with Premier League giants Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho has reportedly been eyeing the Southampton star to add experience to his back line. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly have performed well so far but have struggled a bit in big games and a proven campaigner like Fonte can provide the much-needed stability to the backline.

However, the Red Devils, it seems, are set to face stiff competition from West Ham as according to reports in The Sun, the Hammers have made a £4m bid for the experienced defender.

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Slaven Bilic’s side is currently languishing 13th in the table and the manager is eyeing the Southampton ace to bolster his squad after a difficult start to the season, with 35 goals conceded including the 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City in the FA Cup last week.

The report further claimed that Everton and Crystal Palace are also interested in the 33-year old defender. All the teams are eyeing to take advantage of the player’s situation at the St Mary’s but The Sun has claimed that the Hammers are now the front-runners to sign the Portugal international.

Meanwhile, all the interested clubs will be mighty happy after the defender was left out of the squad to face Liverpool in the EFL Cup semi-final- a clear indication that the Saints are fully prepared to sell the defender.

Speaking about the decision to drop Fonte from the squad, Saints boss Claude Puel said: “Jose won’t participate for this game. We will see for the next game. It is important to keep stability. We do not know the future of Jose, it is a difficult situation in the market. I respect Jose, it is not an easy situation for the staff or players. It is difficult.

“We will see [about including him in the future], I do not comment on the possibility [of him moving]. I think it is important to respect the other players.
“It is an opportunity also for Jose to view different opportunities and it is important to respect this. For me, it is important to keep stability in defence first, and second, we will see what the situation of Jose in this market is.

“If Jose came to leave the club, it is normal for us to look at other opportunities [to buy players to replace him].

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