Even before Portugal’s triumph at last year’s Euros, centre back Jose Fonte had had an impressive season with Southampton as the Saints got the license to treat the rest of the league to a treat of attractive football in the top flight league in England and still manage to stay afloat far away from relegation, above the mid table as they battled Everton for the Europa League spot.
It was, however, his impressive displays for Fernando Santos’ side at the Euros that made big clubs sit up and take a long and hard look at him as he helped marshal the Portuguese defence to the title – in much the same way that Moussa Sissoko’s marauding energy made Pochettino take him from Newcastle United just weeks after the tournament.
With the impressive form, came a frustrating summer for Saints fans – a summer of sagas that followed the Euros as suitors jangled Southampton’s nerves, and did everything in their power to lure the former Crystal Palace man away from St. Marys. At one point he looked odds-on to move, with the biggest freebets website predicting a transfer to Liverpool, following Lovren to Anfield, though in the end it didn’t happen.
Just like this summer’s Van Dijk saga, a friction of interest between club and player arose and unfortunately didn’t stop until September (and even then only until the next January transfer window), whilst the press started speculating on whether the veteran will hand in a transfer request.
Unfortunately for the 34-year old Fonte, those six months of silent frictions lead to an being left out of Claude Puel’s squad, with the Frenchma preferring more committed players, which then created a lag as the suitors thought a bit more carefully about the risk of adding a then 33-year to their pay roll.
Seeing him nowadays at West Ham and with some sense of the lost aura he was famous for at Southampton makes one wonder just what went wrong for a player that spent a long time in the less glamourous shirts of club football, playing for skeleton squads – he finally got a chance after the Euros and then fell back again almost immediatley. Hopefully, as the Hammers resurrect in the coming season, his career can do so as well.