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17th Aug, 2016 | 3:22pm

Manager responds to Everton defender speculation

By Amir Mir

Claude Puel has insisted that Jose Fonte is fully focused and training professionally amid transfer speculation linking him with Everton and Manchester United.

Euro 2016 winner Fonte, 32, is set to lead his Southampton side out in Friday evening’s Premier League showdown against United at Old Trafford.

ESPN FC and the Sun have reported that both United and Everton are interested in signing the central defender.

Ronald Koeman has targeted a £9million move for Fonte as he eyes a replacement for England international John Stones, who joined Manchester City for £47.5million last week.

Southampton manager Puel gave his thoughts on the transfer speculation surrounding his key player.

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“No problem with Jose [Fonte],” said Puel as quoted by the club’s official Twitter account. “Just strange to see rumour, just before the game against United, it is a possibility he come at United, it’s strange.

“Now no problem with Jose [Fonte], he is a very good professional, he made good training sessions this week, it’s important to have Jose with us.”

Here is Puel talking about his club captain, as posted by Southampton’s official Twitter account.

The Portuguese international has been a key figure for the Saints since joining the club in League One six years ago.

The defender took over the captaincy from Adam Lallana in 2014 and he had also signed a new contract with the club last October, which still has two years left to run.

In other Everton transfer news, Ronald Koeman’s side could pull of the signing of the summer, if they land this England international.