Portugal defender José Fonte has signed a new contract with Lille, tying himself to the French champions for at least another season.
The 37-year-old’s deal at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy expired at the end of June having captained Lille to the Ligue 1 title. Fonte has been at the club for three seasons and was an almost ever-present last term, missing just two league matches as Christophe Galtier’s side beat Paris Saint-Germain to the championship.
Galtier has left to take the reigns at Nice, but Lille have ensured continuity with skipper Fonte as they prepare the defence of their crown. The former Southampton captain’s new deal expires in 2022, and he spoke to media after the announcement on Friday to express his satisfaction.
“I am very happy to continue this adventure with LOSC,” he said. “I want to thank the president for his confidence, and I have big consideration for my teammates who I will meet in Lille in a few days. I do not forget the LOSC supporters who support me and have sent me many supportive messages. A big thank you to everyone, I will continue to give my all for LOSC.”
Lille director general Olivier Létang added: “We are very happy with the extension of José’s contract, our captain, which was obvious to me. A great professional, a leader with great experience and a man of great values, pillar of the locker room, José was one of the major players in us becoming champion of France. The extension of José’s contract demonstrates our desire to work in continuity and our ambition for the future.”
In confirming Fonte’s renewal, the club’s social media department put together a video in which teammates and coaching staff praised the Portuguese for his leadership. Players such as central defensive partner Sven Botman and fellow Portuguese Xeka spoke of their admiration for their captain.
“The captain, my captain”— Sean Gillen (@SeanGillen9) July 17, 2021
Lille announced José Fonte’s new contract with a great video made by his teammates pic.twitter.com/V6IZgl9Oqy
Another Luso member of the Lille squad, Renato Sanches, continues to be linked with a move this summer, while as well as Xeka, Les Dogues also have former Sporting defender Tiago Djaló and emerging teenage striker José Bica in their ranks.
Lille begin their Ligue 1 campaign with a trip to Metz in three weeks.
By Sean Gillen