By Harry Sykes
West Ham are in advanced talks to sign Southampton captain Jose Fonte, according to a report.
Sky Sports claim on their website that the London club are working on a deal to prise the veteran centre-back from St Mary’s Stadium.
It is said that Hammers boss Slaven Bilic wants the Portugal international, 33, to bolster a back line that currently only has three senior central defenders in Winston Reid, James Collins and Angelo Ogbonna.
Fonte is a favourite among Southampton supporters but his relationship with the club has disintegrated in recent months.
He was angry at being overlooked for the Saints’ Europa League campaign and then the club’s transfer and contract chief Les Reed publicly claimed that Fonte had handed in a transfer request.
Fonte, who has 18 months remaining on his Southampton contract, could now leave the club this month as it represents one of their final opportunities to agree a sizeable fee for the experienced player.
The Portugese, who helped his country win Euro 2016 last summer, has been a mainstay of the team under a number of different managers since joining from Crystal Palace in January 2010.
He has made 286 appearances in all competitions for Southampton, and has started 17 of their 21 Premier League matches this season.
In other West Ham transfer news, the club’s senior players have made a sensational plea to club chiefs as the window cut-off approaches.