West Ham United announced the signing of Spaniard Pablo Fornals for £24m on a five-year contract (with an option to extend it further by a year) as Manuel Pellegrini looks to fortify his squad before an important season ahead. This makes him the second most expensive signing for the Hammers after Brazilian Felipe Anderson.
He becomes the third player to be signed by the Chilean after the acquisition of David Martin and Roberto.
Fornals comes in with a reputation as one of the leading lights of the Spain setup and will join his new teammates after the conclusion of the U-21 European Championships. The player will reunite with Mario Husillos, the director of football at West Ham United, who oversaw his progress during his time with the Villareal B team.
With this signing, Pellegrini will have no dearth of options in attacking midfield and with a host of players returning from injury, he will have a headache when he sits down to choose his starting XI.
While the Spaniard’s numbers in the previous season are not the fanciest, given the type of player Pellegrini prefers and his inclination to include technically strong attacking options, we feel Fornals will be in the reckoning ahead of Robert Snodgrass, Andriy Yarmolenko and Antonio come the first matchday.
He has registered five goals and 15 assists in 70 La Liga appearances for Villareal in the last two seasons but 12 of those assists came in his first season which shows he has failed to replicate the same level of attacking output.
But with technically superior players alongside him in a more free-flowing system under Pellegrini, Pablo will be hopeful of featuring more in the number of goals and assists column.
PREDICTED WEST HAM UNITED LINEUP INCLUDING PABLO FORNALS (4-2-3-1)
Lukasz Fabianski will take up his place in goal after a stellar season last time around. We expect Ryan Fredericks to have a more prominent role from right back while the central defensive pairing will feature Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena with Angelo Ogbonna providing another option. Aaron Cresswell will hope to have a fairly injury-free season at left-back.
MIDFIELD & ATTACK
Declan Rice will play a huge role in deep midfield after a breakthrough season and while he may yet have a new partner before next season kicks off, for now, Mark Noble seems to be someone who will be best suited to complement the young star. Jack Wilshere also is an option who will be the more adventurous of the two while Robert Snodgrass also featured in midfield on a number of occasions.
Felipe Anderson has cemented his position on the left while Manuel Lanzini will most likely take up the No.10 role. We foresee new boy Fornals to be slotted into the right attacking midfield and his versatility will help him feature more regularly in one of the attacking positions even if Pellegrini looks for a change going forward.