By Amir Mir
Southampton manager Claude Puel has revealed that he expects Everton target Jose Fonte to stay at the club.
The Sun claimed last Monday that Ronald Koeman had targeted a £9million move for Fonte as he eyed a replacement for England international John Stones, who is expected to join Manchester City for a reported fee of £50million.
It is said that Koeman wants to strengthen his defence ahead of the upcoming season and eyes the Portugal international as the ideal man to improve his back four.
New Saints boss Puel does not want to lose the 32-year-old club captain.
“He’s a very important player for the squad and the team,” said Puel as quoted by the Mirror.
“It’s fantastic to have two players that are champions of Europe, with (Cedric) Soares. Only we can say that. Jose came back with the squad and it’s important to keep him with a good head and attitude.”
Southampton have offered Euro 2016 winner Fonte a new and improved contract in order to fend off any interest from their rivals.
Koeman, who moved to Merseyside in July from Southampton, has signed only two senior players since his move with goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and midfielder Idrissa Gueye from Aston Villa for £7.1 million.
The Dutchman is already trying to target Swansea captain Ashley Williams, after the former ball playing centre-half had a £10 million offer rejected by the Welsh club.
The Toffees will be hoping for European football under Koeman in the coming season, after two disappointing seasons under Roberto Martinez which resulted in his sacking.
In other Everton transfer news, the Toffees have been installed as strong favourites to sign Juan Mata.