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Lille swoop for free agent Portugal international Fonte

19:55 SAST 2018/07/20
Jose Fonte - cropped
The Euro 2016 champion is set to make his first foray into French football with a club who barely survived relegation last season

Ligue 1 side Lille have snapped up Portugal international Jose Fonte on a free transfer.

The 34-year-old defender has signed a two-year deal after terminating his contract with Dalian Yifang earlier this week.

He made just nine competitive appearances in China but started all four of Portugal's matches at the World Cup in Russia.

Fonte, who previously had Premier League spells with Southampton and West Ham, has been tasked with providing leadership alongside fellow new signing Loic Remy.

"I am very proud to join LOSC, a great French club," Fonte said.

"This is a new challenge for me, which I hope will be very successful. I will give everything to help the club as best as possible in its ambitious project."

Fonte had a long run in England, first joining Crystal Palace during the 2007-08 season while they were in the Championship. He later moved to Southampton while the club was in League One.

The defender remained with Southampton as they worked their way back to the Premier League, and even managed to start four Europa League games for the club in 2015-16.

He moved to West Ham in January 2017 and played in 24 games in the Premier League with the London club over the next 13 months before joining Dalian Yifang in the China.

Despite making only nine appearances in China, he played every minute of Portugal's World Cup campaign this summer, which ended with a round of 16 loss to Uruguay for the reigning European Champions. 

Lille finished 17th in Ligue 1 last term, avoiding a relegation play-off by one point.