Image from: zimbio.com
Southampton captain Jose Fonte is among the most under rated players in the game. His positional sense is excellent, as well as his organisation of a back four, which allows him to work very well, no matter who is put alongside him.
He is not one for the last ditch sliding tackle for the cameras numerous times a game, because he, unlike so many centre backs, makes sure to position himself properly, so that recovery challenge is not needed very often. Unfortunately for him, though fortunately for Saints, this means that the job is does is very much beneath the radar.
Lacking any real pace, though not a slouch, he is very reliant on his excellent reading of the game to position himself to clear the ball, which is why he is often there to clear balls crossed in or to nip in ahead of an attacker:
Strong enough in the air to give any forward a difficult day, and nick the odd goal from set pieces. While not really a true ball playing centre back, he is decent and composed on the ball, but he does lack the range of passing of some of the really top ball playing centre halfs.
Soton fans should thank their lucky stars he does lack a little quality on the ball, because if did, he would no doubt be poached by one of the richer clubs in the Premier League. He would certainly have cost them a considerable amount more than the £1.23m they spent to bring him in from Crystal Palace back in January 2010.
Despite last summer's exodus of players, Fonte held the team together and collected a fully deserved player of the season award for the 2014/15 season. While he is lucky to have good protection ahead of him from the midfield, Victor Wanyama in particular, he is still a very solid defender that has a knack for working well with whoever is alongside him.
Next season will be a big test for him, as Southampton once again face a mini exodus of their top talents. So far he has stepped up from League One without even a sign of being over stretched, now he has to step up another level, with Saints' quest for Europa League glory giving him the chance to show just how good he actually is.
With European football may also come more Portugal caps to add to the four he has managed to get so far, though he will need to show more quality on the ball to hold down a place in his national side.
Written by Tris Burke
|Match Date||18 Jan 2014|
|Free Kick Taking||-|
|Off The Ball||8|
Playing For: Southampton.
18 Jan 2014 Premier League v Sunderland AFC at Stadium of Light.
Read the game well.
Struggled against Altidore's strength, on the few occasions Altidore used it.
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