Claude Puel remains relatively tight-lipped on the future of Jose Fonte amid ongoing speculation that the Southampton captain will shortly bid farewell to St Mary's following interest from Premier League rivals including West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur.
Initially addressing the rumours after watching his side advance to the fourth-round of the FA Cup on Wednesday night (18 January) with a 1-0 replay win over Norwich City in front of a sparse home crowd, the Saints boss confirmed that Fonte, who has not played since handing in a formal transfer request earlier this month, was "studying opportunities". He also claimed that "we will see over the next few days" whether or not the long-serving skipper does end up leaving the club.
"I cannot make a comment about this," Puel was quoted as saying by Sky Sports when asked again about the Fonte situation during a press conference ahead of the Leicester City clash on Thursday. "I said for Jose there are different possibilities.
"It's him who has the solution and the opportunities to see this and we will see what the situation is in a few days. For the moment, I cannot comment on anything."
Having previously attracted attention from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, Fonte's list of suitors has become notably less glamorous over recent weeks. The Guardian has reported that West Ham are in advanced talks over a deal that could be worth as much as £12m ($14.7m), although Slaven Bilic insisted earlier today that no medical was imminent. He did not rule out signing the player, however, and hopes to unveil a new recruit very soon.
"[Fonte is] not having a medical today," he confirmed. "We are not talking about transfers, we are working on some though. There are one or two players we need, it won't be easy, but we are trying. Hopefully have something to announce in 24 hours."
Mauricio Pochettino knows all about Fonte's qualities, having previously managed him during his 18 months in charge at Southampton. The European Championship winner, who only earned his first senior international cap for Portugal in 2014 at age 30, could be seen as an ideal short-term signing for Tottenham with Jan Vertonghen currently out of action after suffering more ankle ligament damage.
Pochettino declined to comment directly on any links to Fonte during his own media call, but stressed that he was not seeking defensive reinforcements with Vertonghen's latest injury not as serious as first feared.
"It's impossible to stop the rumours," he said, according to football.london. "I think there is nothing to comment. Only thing I can say is we are not looking to add players in that area."
The apparent breakdown in Fonte's relationship with Southampton comes after a seven-year spell during which he helped the club progress from League One to the top-flight and then on into Europe. The 33-year-old has 18 months left to run on his current contract and previously disputed claims that he had rejected a new deal by insisting that he had actually been told that there was no extension forthcoming.
Fonte, who is now looked after by so-called 'super-agent' Jorge Mendes, further stressed that he was offered a pay rise last summer but not a fresh contract.