Jose Fonte’s transfer to China is ‘close’, confirms David Moyes

West Ham manager David Moyes has confirmed defender Jose Fonte is close to joining Chinese club Dalian Yifeng

West Ham defender Jose Fonte is “close” to completing his transfer to the Chinese Super League, manager David Moyes has confirmed.

The 34-year-old centre-back is on the verge of a move to Dalian Yifang, according to Sky sources.

Fonte signed for the West Ham in an £8m deal from Premier League rivals Southampton in January 2017, but has only made eight appearances in all competitions this season after suffering an ankle injury.

The decision by former boss Slaven Bilic to sign Fonte from Southampton was publicly ridiculed by West Ham co-owner David Sullivan, who told The Guardian: “My kids begged me not to sign them.”

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against Liverpool, Moyes all but confirmed the defender’s departure: “Fonte’s move to China is close, but not yet confirmed.

“It’s a choice the Jose wanted to make at 34-years-old. He felt it was the right thing for his career at this time.

“It gives him the chance to try something new and he wants to get into the Portugal squad for the World Cup.

“If he was playing regularly he has a better chance. He’s just back from injury and has got himself back into condition to play. We wish him good luck. He’s been a really good professional since I have been here.”

One player Moyes maintains he does not want to lose is in-form Marko Arnautovic. The West Ham boss believes the Austria international could play for any team in the world as long as he keeps his focus.

He said: “In many ways [he can play for any team]. He has the football ability and he certainly has the self belief, I’ll tell you that. Sometimes that is needed when you are a forward, you need that confidence and arrogance which he certainly has.

“I think he if he keeps up his current form and he doesn’t lose his focus and doesn’t go back to the way he was [at the beginning of the season], I think he could play for any team. He’s shown at the moment he can and long may that continue.

“I’m saying it because I want him to hear it. If I think he is stepping back in way to where he was I won’t be having it. I’ve told him that. He’s too good now and we need him.”

Moyes also confirmed defender Winston Reid is back in contention to play against Liverpool on Saturday, while midfielder Manuel Lanzini could also return after a month out with a hamstring injury.

He continued: “We’ve got our players back, we are close to a full squad. In the main, we are very close. Lanzini could return this weekend. It’s a decision we will take tomorrow. Hopefully he stays fit for the rest of the season.

“Reid is back in the squad and training. The players have had some time off but have been worked hard when in training. I would still have rather been in the FA Cup.”