Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is willing to wait until transfer deadline day to sign veteran defender Jose Fonte from Southampton.

Manchester Evening News says the Portuguese manager is keen to add an experienced defender to his squad and is preparing to test Saints' resolve by making a late bid for Fonte.

However, the paper adds that Mourinho no longer considers Fonte a crucial signing after having been impressed by the performances of Eric Bailly and Daley Blind at centre-back in United's opening league fixtures.

The Red Devils also have other centre-back options in the form of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.

United are reported to have made enquiries about Juventus centre-back Leonardo Bonucci, but are wary of more lengthy negotiations with the Italian club after finally completing the world-record signing of Paul Pogba earlier this month.

Rafael Varane was another transfer target for Mourinho, but the Frenchman is reported to have his heart set on staying and fighting for a place at Real Madrid.

Jose Fonte
Jose Fonte, 32, started 37 league games for Southampton last season Getty Images

Earlier reports suggested that Mourinho was keen to sign a defensive leader in the mould of former United captain Nemanja Vidic to marshal the back four.

The Portuguese coach has already signed one defender this summer – Ivory Coast centre-back Bailly, 22, from Villarreal for £30m ($39m).

Aside from wanting more experience in the back four, Mourinho is also reported to be conscious of the fact that Bailly will be unavailable in January while he competes in the African Cup of Nations.

Fonte starred for Portugal in their victorious Euro 2016 campaign and made 37 league appearances for Southampton last season.

He played the full 90 minutes of the Saints' 2-0 defeat to United at Old Trafford on 19 August.

Earlier this month, the 32-year-old said he was "flattered" to be linked with a move to the Red Devils.

"If the interest is there, it is a reason to be flattered to be associated with a club like Manchester United," Fonte told Mais Futebol.

"I will not deny that Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world and that it makes me happy to be associated with it. But to be Manchester United's player is a big difference."