Report: Aston Villa pursuing Southampton skipper Jose Fonte, but Saints need replacement first

St Marys Southampton

The Portuguese centre-back is also said to be a target for Everton.

Aston Villa could be set to nab one of their Premier League rivals’ star defenders if reports are to be believed.

According to Sky Sports, the club are in talks with Southampton captain Jose Fonte, who, despite signing a new deal last summer until 2017, is also said to be interesting Everton.

However, the report adds that Southampton will not allow the Portuguese centre-back to leave without signing a replacement first, with their number one target being Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk.

A deal of the Dutchman, though, is expected to rest on whether the Scottish side qualifies for the Champions League group stages, although the Daily Record has claimed this week that a £10 million transfer could happen regardless.

 2014-15 Premier League TeamErrors Lead To GoalTotal Tackles MINSTackles AccuracyTotal Clearances MINSHeaders Won MINSHeader SuccessInterceptions MINSPassing AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Ciaran Clark Aston Villa 0 51.05 87% 9.96 26.2 64.96 42.36% 79% 25 1,991
Jores Okore Aston Villa 0 39.39 75% 13.48 41.85 56.47 30.91% 86% 23 2,009
Jose Fonte Southampton 1 42.15 72% 16.65 55.5 55.56 28.22% 84% 37 3,330
Nathan Baker Aston Villa 0 54.5 71% 7.48 20.62 58.73 42.39% 77% 11 763
Ron Vlaar Aston Villa 1 96.82 65% 14.31 68.58 52.17 40.15% 82% 20 1,646
Philippe Senderos Aston Villa 0 90.29 43% 13.17 105.33 46.15 70.22% 82% 8 632

Fonte, 31, has played 226 times for the Saints since arriving from Crystal Palace in 2010, helping the south coast club rise from League One to a seventh-place top-flight finish and Europa League qualification.

The 6ft 2in stopper’s impressive performances last season, when he missed just one Premier League game due to suspension, also earned him widespread plaudits and a first call-up to the Portugal national team.

Since earning four caps, the former Benfica man is now looking to help Ronald Koeman’s side consolidate a place in the top half of the Premier League, so a potential move to Villa would come as somewhat of a surprise.

Though the claret and blues look to be on the up again under Tim Sherwood following four straight relegation threatened campaigns, Southampton still seem in a much healthier situation at present, while it’s debatable whether the Midlands outfit even need centre-back help.

Both new skipper Micah Richards and Ciaran Clark are now entrenched as the first-choice pairing, while promising duo Jores Okore and Nathan Baker are two solid backup options.

The experienced Philippe Senderos has been linked with a departure in recent weeks but, with versatile summer signing Jose Angel Crespo also able to fill in at centre-half, there would not seem to be a desperate need for help at the position.

Nevertheless, recent reports have claimed that the club had an approach for West Bromwich Albion’s Joleon Lescott rejected [h/t Sky Sports] earlier this month, suggesting that Sherwood is still keen to further bolster his side’s backline.

There is little doubt that Fonte would be an excellent addition for Villa but, given Southampton’s stance, there is good reason for fans to be sceptical about a possible deal happening at this moment in time.

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