Manchester United: Jose Mourinho Boosted in Chase for Star Premier League Defender

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho at Sixfields Stadium, Northampton, September 21. Mourinho may renew United's attempts to sign Southampton defender Jose Fonte. Pete Norton/Getty

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had hoped to make his namesake Jose Fonte his fifth major summer signing during his first transfer window as Old Trafford supremo.

Fonte, 32, admitted to being flattered by Mourinho's interest and referred to his warm relationship with his fellow Portuguese, saying "he knows me well."

The Southampton defender might have been the ideal player to complement Eric Bailly at the heart of United's defense. Instead, he stayed on England's south coast, issuing a statement early in September vowing his commitment to the club.

Now, though, Mourinho's interest may have been rekindled, with Fonte admitting no new contract offer has been made to him by Southampton.

"There's nothing on the table, so I'm waiting. I'll see what happens. I'm just focusing on performing and we'll see what happens. We haven't agreed anything, it's just talks," Fonte said.

Mourinho has used Daley Blind and Chris Smalling alongside Bailly so far. Blind provides United with a solid formation from the back, but struggles in more physical encounters. Mourinho left him out of the side for the 3-1 defeat against Watford earlier in September and played Smalling against Watford's two powerful strikers, Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. But Smalling, in turn, is less proficient at playing the ball out of defense as Mourinho might prefer.

Fonte may only have a few years at the top, but he can provide the kind of leadership and calm decision-making that could help Bailly realize his enormous potential.

If Mourinho wants another defender in January, it appears a deal for Fonte could very much be back on.