Saints Should Not Bring Back Fonte
Wednesday, 18th Jul 2018 07:45
Jose Fonte was a popular player amongst the Saints supporters during his 7 year stint at the club, however sentiment should not get in the way of realism.
Jose Fonte could lay claim to be one of the best signings that Southampton Football Club ever made, signed for a mere £1.2 million in January 2010 he went on to make almost 300 appearances for the club in all competitions and playing a key part in back to back promotions to return the club to the Premier League and a top six finish and successive European campaigns, no one can deny he played a key part in all of that and although at times I felt his form dipped he always seemed to be able to find that little extra from somewhere to confound his critics and keep going well into his 30's.
He left under a cloud though, after playing in Portugal's European Campionships winning side he returned to St Mary's a changed man with the papers full of a bid from Manchester United in the offing even before he had returned to the squad pre season.
Funnily enough his agent Jorge Mendes was a great mate of the new Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and something stank about the deal, everyone seemed to be chasing money and even United themselves were said to have spoken to their new manager asking him why he was after Fonte.
Fonte's career at St Mary's could have and should have ended on a high, he could have knuckled down and if as he said he wanted to chase honours then why leave a club on the verge of a Wembley cup final, he could have pledged his future, stayed and he would certainly have been a much needed presence in the Saints defence that day against ironically the club who tried to sign him.
Instead with Saints leading 1-0 in the League Cup semi final first leg, with only days to go to the second leg he preferred to join West Ham for £8 million, a good bit of business for Saints if Virgil Van Dijk hadn't been injured days after, by this time though Fonte had been removed from the squad and preferred to kick his heals on the sidelines.
This was a sour end to what for all but the final few months had been a good fit for both club and player, but his behaviour at the end was both unprofessional and saddening, not to mention an insult to a club and it's supporters.
But that is not the reason why I feel that bringing him back to St Mary's is not a good idea, firstly there is his age factor, he will turn 35 in December.
Secondly there is just how little football he has played since leaving St Mary's and how poor his form has been, after joining West Ham he didn't exactly endear himself to the fans for his performances and he played only 24 Premier League games in 13 months.
The Hammers were relived when Chinese side Dalian Jifang offered to pay £ 5 million for the player in February of this year, but his stay in China would not be a good one, his first match saw his new side lose 8-0 to Shanghai SIPG and after his new side had lost 4 out of his first 6 matches, drawing the other 2 and shipping in 17 goals in the process, Fonte was dropped.
His final game for the club came back in May when he played in a 1-0 defeat ironically against Jiangsu Suning, Saints opponents in their second match on the Chinese tour.
Fonte played in all four games for Portugal in the World Cup, but the Portugese defence did not distinguish itself and went home with their reputation in tatters.
Thirdly there is the fact that Saints are now well served in the central defensive department, they have five players for that position and it is hard to see where Fonte would get in the team ahead of at last three of them.
There is a case for his leadership qualities in the side, but the reality is that his pace has gone, it is hard to see him getting through a Premier League season and the last 20 months performances for West Ham, Dalian Jifang and Portugal have not suggested that he is the player he was even two years ago.
So now is not the time for sentiment, it is time for reality and we have to ask what he would bring to the squad and the answer is very little and that is not enough to warrant bringing him back to St Mary's, even on a free transfer.
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