With David Moyes confirming it in his most recent, pre-Liverpool press conference, centre-back Jose Fonte will be headed to the Chinese Super League new comers, Dailan Yifeng. The move will leave a gap in West Ham’s defense, a rumored £5 million in their pockets, and an opportunity to make a splash in the summer transfer market. Despite the squad being historically shallow now, the loss of the Portuguese defender makes sense for both parties in the big picture.
What has probably spelled the end for Fonte at West Ham is the emergence of two payers at centre-back: Declan Rice and Aaron Cresswell. For Rice, he became West Ham’s prized prospect, passing Reece Oxford, Reece Burke, and Josh Cullen. He has played and played well in the first team this season, demanding attention when it comes to the future of Moyes’ West ham.
Aaron Cresswell has been a bit of a surprise. Coming off of a horrible season Cresswell seemed to have settled his game down in a four at the back formation. With Moyes’ wingback formation Cresswell got pushed out of the starting job on the left side as Arthur Masuaku dribbled his way into the first team. Cresswell, out of necessity jumped in as a left centre-back and has thrived. His speed has been an asset and he has settled in nicely to a non-ideal situation.
With Cresswell and Rice West Ham have Collins, Ogbonna, and Rice alongside them at centre-back. It is West Ham’s deepest position on the roster, and despite Fonte nearing a return from injury, it looked unlikely that he would unsettle any of the other defenders.
So, with the World Cup only months away, and Fonte looking for what would probably be his last opportunity to make the Portuguese squad, he moves out to China in search of game time. Ironically, West Ham defenders like Ogbonna and Collins have had their defensive prowess on display in recent weeks with Moyes as their manager, if it hadn’t been for an untimely injury Fonte would likely be featuring still.
The move is mutually beneficial, despite recent fan unrest on twitter. With the board being slated for transfer let down daily, West Ham are desperate to impress with new signings, and Fonte leaving allows an addition in the summer. West Ham will likely have to make hard decisions on their remaining centre-backs like Collins and Reid.
The moving out of Fonte also allows West Ham to get younger in defense. Looking for a young, English core West Ham will desire players who can have Moyes imprint his defensive structure into their developing football IQ on the pitch.
Fonte has been nothing short of a professional for West Ham in his time at the club. He always wanted to be a factor in the first team, and helped in recruiting the likes of Joao Mario to the club now. A West Ham fan before joining the club, Fonte has been a polarizing figure for West Ham supporters, but many were impressed by his turn in form before being injured.
Despedida, Jose Fonte. Best of luck abroad!
Come On You Irons!