Southampton - Southampton manager Claude Puel admits it has been a testing time dealing with the transfer speculation surrounding Jose Fonte.
The Saints captain has been instrumental in the team's climb to the Premier League, helping them earn back-to-back promotions.
However, the centre-back's future at the club is in doubt with the
likes of West Ham United reportedly keen on signing Fonte, and Puel has
consequently kept him out of the squad this month.
Puel said: "This situation with Jose is difficult for the squad.
“It’s not just about this market; it’s been since the beginning of
the season. It’s been a difficult situation for Jose because he’s always
in discussions with the club, about contracts, or no contracts.
“I took a decision at the beginning of this [transfer] window to keep
Jose out of the team, to study different possibilities and to protect
the team from all this speculation about Jose.”
The Portugal international opted not to extend his contract and now only has 18 months left on it.
Southampton next host Leicester City at St. Mary's Stadium with three points separating the two sides who are 13th and 15 on the Premiership standings.
Kick off is at 14:30.