Southampton manager, Claude Puel admits the transfer request submitted by the team captain, Jose Fonte has put the club in a difficult situation.

Claude Puel accepts the Saints have found it difficult to cope with transfer speculation about club captain Jose Fonte.

The defender per reports would soon be moving to West Ham after he requested for a transfer, with the Portuguese international not being used by Puel since January 2.

Southampton hosted Leicester City on Sunday at their St Mary’s Stadium, after having lost four Premier League matches. The agenda of the pre-match press conference got diverted to discussion about Fonte’s future.

The French man at the press conference on Thursday told reporters as quoted by FouFourTwo: “This situation with Jose is difficult for the squad, It’s difficult for him also. It’s not just about this market; it’s been since the beginning of the season.

“It’s been a difficult situation for Jose because he’s always in discussions with the club, about contracts, or no contracts.

“I took a decision at the beginning of this [transfer] window to keep Jose out of the team, to study different possibilities and to protect the team from all this speculation about Jose.

“With this many games it’s important to keep focused about our game, not just on the situation of Jose. It’s difficult, but the squad can take responsibility.”

News have been circulating that Southampton is looking to replace Fonte with Liverpool’s infamous defender Mamadou Sakho, but Puel dispelled having a deal with the former Paris Saint-Germain player and said he would rather look within his squad for Fonte’s replacement should he leave.

“I know this player but I know nothing about this, it’s speculation,” Puel said. “We have a reflection about this possibility to see [if we will sign] another centre-back if Jose Fonte left. For the moment it’s not the situation, and perhaps we will stay with the same squad, with good opportunities for Jack Stephens or [Florin] Gardos.

“It’s a long time with a lot of injuries for Gardos, but he came back for the Under-23s before this game [the 1-0 win against Norwich in the FA Cup] with a good level and we will see if we just have Jack and Florin, or you might see another player if Jose Fonte leaves Southampton.

“Jose has different possibilities. He has the solution and the opportunity to see this, and we will see what the situation is in a few days. He was in training on Thursday morning with the players and he works normally with good spirit, and like a professional. We will see after the situation of Jose”