Everton FC step up bid for Portugal international

Everton will step up their efforts to land Jose Fonte after he was left out of Southampton’s squad for their EFL Cup semi-final with Liverpool.

Ronald Koeman was placed on alert for Fonte after his former defender and current Saints captain submitted a transfer request to club officials last week.

The Portugal international is currently refusing to commit to the South Coast side beyond his existing contract which is set to expire in 18 months’ time.

That prompted Claude Puel to withdraw him from selection for Southampton’s last four encounter with Liverpool on Wednesday night.

Koeman inherited Fonte during his time in charge at St Mary’s and is now considering a reunion in a bid to shore up the Blues’ struggling back line.

Fonte’s age is unlikely to be a barrier to a short-term deal after Everton signed Ashley Williams, just 12 months his junior, from Swansea City last summer.

Southampton have already identified Liverpool outcast Mamadou Sakho as a potential successor to the Euro 2016 winner.