When Jose Mourinho became Manchester United manager, he gave their executive vice-chairman a list of four players who he believed would turn the team into Premier League title winners.
The list ranged from a relatively unknown centre-back from La Liga to one of the world's best-known players in Paul Pogba. To sign all of them would take over £200million of investment in both transfer fees, agent fees and wages but that didn't worry Ed Woodward.
Backing their new manager, Manchester United plunged huge funds into the summer transfer window, breaking the world record to sign Pogba whilst also fending off a host of rival clubs to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer.
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Mourinho had the four players he requested but it wasn't long before the Special One realised that he may, in fact, need a fifth. The closing stages of the summer transfer window saw United linked with a move for Southampton defender Jose Fonte.
The 32-year-old has a vast amount of experience in English football and was wanted to sure up what looked like fragile back-line at Old Trafford. However, the coffers were empty and a deal never materialised.
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According to The Sun on Sunday, Mourinho is still hoping to sign Fonte in the January transfer window and believes a £10m deal will be enough to convince Southampton to sell.
Manchester United have the funds to complete such a deal but they won't give it the green light until Mourinho clears some space in his squad. Apparently, Woodward has told Mourinho that the club won't allow additional funds to cover Fonte's wages, meaning they will have to come from a current member of the first-team squad.
Essentially, Mourinho has to sell a player he doesn't want to get one he does. The obvious candidate would be Argentine Marcos Rojo, who has yet to play in the Premier League this season.
The former Sporting Lisbon man was told to find a new club in the summer but rejected a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League. He has since been limited to appearances in the Europa League and EFL Cup.
United's job with regards to Fonte could be made easier if he does not sign a new contract at St Mary's. His current deal expires at the end of the current season and he admitted earlier this week that no extension is on offer.
The Saints skipper said earlier this week: “There’s nothing on the table, so I’m waiting.
“I’ll see what happens. I’m just focusing on performing above all and we’ll see what happens. We haven’t agreed anything, so it’s just talks.
“There were some talks but there hasn’t been for a while. Like I said, I’m focusing on my job and we’ll see what happens in the future.
“But I’m not concerned about that, just concerned about performing and doing well for my club.”