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Crystal Palace had a nightmare with Jose Fonte

When Jose Fonte left Crystal Palace for Southampton in 2010, few Eagles fans would have predicted that the centre-back would still be playing at the top level 12 years later.

Fonte joined Palace from Sporting Lisbon in 2007 and was a regular during his time at Selhurst Park, making 92 appearances, in which he contributed six goals and seven assists.

However, he was sold to Southampton, who were in League One at the time, in a deal worth just £1.2m in 2010, a move which really helped the Portugal international propel his career towards the top.

He would help the Saints to two successive promotions in order to reach the Premier League, where they have remained ever since, with Fonte a regular at St Mary’s until his exit seven years later.

The centre-back would make 288 appearances for Southampton in total, contributing 15 goals and nine assists, and he will undoubtedly be fondly remembered by Saints fans.

Should Palace have kept Fonte?

Yes

Yes

No

No

In 2017, he joined West Ham and endured a less successful time with the Hammers, making just 24 appearances before he was sold to Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional the following year.

While he struggled for form during his time at the London club, teammate Darren Randolph was full of praise for his impact in training, saying:

“It is only going to add to the quality that we have and to the squad as well. I have already seen in training that he is a leader. He is loud and vocal and organises well. It should be a good addition.”

His time in China was no more than a dalliance and in 2018 he would make the move to Lille, where he has gone on to make 172 appearances, scoring eight goals and contributing five assists during arguably the most successful spell of his career.

Indeed, the £28k-per-week brute played a key role in Lille’s remarkable title-winning season in 2021, making 36 appearances in the French top-flight as they toppled PSG in order to claim top spot.

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Even now, aged 38, Fonte remains a regular in Lille’s first team and has made nine appearances so far this season in Ligue 1.

While it is impossible to say if he would have reached the same level had he remained with Palace, his impressive career since leaving suggests that they made a rather big mistake in selling him for just £1.2m in 2010.