Former Southampton star Jose Fonte has revealed the role he played in Sven Botman’s move to Newcastle United.
The Portugal international played alongside the Magpies defender during his two-year stay at French side Lille as they helped form a strong partnership that led the club to the Ligue 1 title and Trophee des Champions during their first season together.
A challenging second season saw Lille racked with inconsistency but Botman’s form still led to major interest from Newcastle and AC Milan. Despite seeing several bids rejected by Lille during the January transfer window, the Magpies saw off competition from the Serie A giants when Botman completed a £32m move to Tyneside during the summer.
Their success in Lille and Botman’s impressive form in the Premier League has proved Fonte wrong after he admitted he was wary of the challenge that lay in wait for the former Ajax defender when he was brought in to replace Arsenal-bound Gabriel during the summer of 2020.
Speaking to French outlet La Voix des Sports, he said: “When Gabriel Magalhaes leaves, I asked (Luis) Campos the name of his successor. When he tells me about Sven, I go straight to YouTube and my first impression is that he’s not ready and it’s going to be hard. Tactically, I see things that I didn’t like.
“After two games, I told Campos that I was wrong. He had this ability to learn quickly. Beyond that, he’s a good person, a very good professional. We spent two extraordinary years. Sven pushes up the pitch, he’s aggressive with a good left-foot and wins duels. Tactically, I think I helped him find good timing, knowing when to come out, when to stay.
“When he told me about Newcastle, I told him to go for it. And they’re third now, no?”