• Portuguese defender was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United during the summer.
  • Director of football Les Reed says player has turned down improved deal as he wants to leave.

Southampton centre-back Jose Fonte has handed in a transfer request following summer speculations linking him with a move to Manchester United. Saints director of football Les Reed has confirmed that the club had offered the 33-year-old an improved contract, but the defender wants to "explore opportunities for a transfer" during the January transfer window.

Fonte, who still has 18 months remaining on his contract at St Mary's Stadium, admitted earlier in the season that United tried had sign him during the summer transfer window amid reports suggesting Jose Mourinho was ready to pay around £8m ($9.4m) for his services.

"Was I disappointed the Man United move didn't happen? Let's leave that for another time," he said earlier this season, according to Manchester Evening News. "Now I'm focused on Southampton."

Fonte has been a crucial player for Claude Puel during the opening stretch of the campaign, making 17 Premier League starts as part of an impressive defensive partnership with coveted Virgil van Dijk.

Puel said last week that neither of the duo would leave the club during the January transfer window, despite Van Dijk reportedly attracting attention from the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Jose Fonte
Fonte (left) was heavily linked with Manchester United during the summer transfer window. Getty

But Reed has now put Fonte's future in doubt after revealing that the Portuguese defender has turned down a new deal with the club.

"He's had several opportunities to improve the contract situation. He's reserved his right not to do that," Reed told BBC Radio Solent. "He's made it very clear he would like to explore the opportunities for a transfer.

"That's where we are at the moment, Jose wants to leave the club. He's formally asked for a transfer."

Reed failed to confirm whether the likes of Manchester United are still interested in signing the playerm, stating that Southampton are yet to receive a formal approach for the veteran centre-back.

Fonte recently said Southampton had failed to offer him a new deal, but Reed insists that it has been the player rejecting any chance to sign an extension.

"What was offered to Jose was, in my view, quite significant off the back of the contract he signed in October 2015," Reed said.

"Six months later we were prepared to improve that contract and extend it. He has turned down the opportunity to increase his salary, and he's turned down the opportunity to get another permanent year on his contract."