The departure of West Ham United defender Jose Fonte to Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang was announced by the club yesterday afternoon amid days of speculation.
The 34-year-old makes the move to China for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £5 million, just over a year after becoming a Hammer for £8 million in the January 2017 Transfer Window, joining from Southampton.
Fonte’s motive for upping sticks and moving is believed to be forcing his way back into Fernando Santos’ Portugal squad for this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The 2016 European Championship winner has missed the last few through an ankle injury, one that has also meant he has been out of action since November, making his final appearance in Claret & Blue in a home defeat against Liverpool, despite appearing in recent West Ham matchday squads.
In their official statement on their official website announcing the Transfer, the club had this to say, thanking Fonte for his services at the London Stadium and wishing him luck for the future.
“Everyone at West Ham United would like to thank Jose for his efforts during his time at the Club and wish him a successful future with Dalian Yifang.”
In total, the former Saint made 24 appearances for the East Londoners, including eight in the 2017/2018 season, a first few months of the campaign where he arguably enjoyed his best form for the team.
He joins a CSL outfit in Dalian who are about to get their season underway, offering the back four-member plenty more opportunities to play before hoping to appear on the world stage in the summer.
Although the deal has been agreed, Fonte is yet to meet with the club and sign his contract, thus officially joining them, that process will take place early next week.
And he could even make his debut for the Blue Hawks in next Saturday’s season-opening away clash with Shanghai East Asia at the Shanghai Stadium in the Chinese Super League.
The Transfer leaves Irons boss David Moyes another man light amid injury problems heading into crunch time in the Premier League season and he had this to say about Fonte in his Press Conference before today’s trip to Anfield to face the Reds.
“I can confirm that he is close to going to China. He wants to get into the Portuguese squad for the World Cup and I wish him good luck. He’s a good professional.”
However, there was also some more positive news from the former Manchester United manager when it came to the fitness of his squad ahead of a crucial run of fixtures.
Argentinian playmaker Manuel Lanzini and Kiwi centre-back Winston Reid will be back in the squad that travels to Merseyside this afternoon, an unlikely three points for the East London side will move them a step closer to Top-Flight safety.
The club currently sit in 12th position in the PL standings but are a mere four points off the Saints in 18th position, though level on points with Watford in 11th and just ten away from the safety net of 40 points.