Pablo Fornals has signed for West Ham United for a reported fee of £24 million from Villarreal. The 23 year old has also, in the process become the 2nd most expensive signing in their history after securing Felipe Anderson last season. Fornals, their 3rd signing of the summer, after Roberto and David Martin, had a breakthrough campaign in 2018/19 after scoring 5 goals in 50 appearances from central midfield position. He has signed a 5 year contract with the club with an option of extending a further year.
Pellegrini was quick to heap praise on the 23 year old who is currently on duty with Spain at the under 21 European Championships.
“I personally have followed his career since he was a youth player with me at Malaga, and I know we have signed an incredible professional and an incredible character. “We believe that his style and ability perfectly complements the midfielders already at the club, and we are very pleased to have secured his signing so early in the summer.”
Fornals joined the Malaga youth setup at the age of 12, at the same time when Pellegrini was the manager. He spent the entire 2014/15 season with the reserves side at the 3rd division. He got his first shot with the first team in 2015/16 against Real Madrid which ended in a 0-0 draw. He got his first goal about 2 months later against Granada CF. During his last season at Malaga, he had a really productive season with 6 goals in 34 league appearances.
In July 2017, Villarreal paid around £10.5 Million for his services and in his debut season he managed to score 3 goals and provide 12 assists in 2,623 minutes. During his final season, he only scored 2 goals and provided 3 assists in 35 appearances, but it was the Europa League where he was more impressive, scoring 3 goals and providing 3 assists in 12 appearances and a quarter final appearance where they lost against Valencia. He also created the 2nd most chances in the Europa League, only behind Kostic of Frankfurt.
Fantasy Football Potential
Looking at Villarreal’s disappointing season in 2018/19, Fornals’ contribution looks really impressive. He took 2.1 shots, providing 1.9 key passes and completed 1.4 dribbles, which shows that he is one of the very few driving forces for a 14th place Villarreal side.
Also he was quite unlucky with his goals and assist numbers. Though he scored only 2 goals last season, XG (expected goals) predicted that he should’ve scored 4. Similarly, he only provided 3 assists but XA (expected assists) had it on 5.4, hence, his output should’ve been double in all the departments.
Though his passing has always been decent in the league, it’s recently in the under 21 European Championships where his cameos have been impressive. His 68 minutes have resulted in a goal and a 94% pass accuracy. Fornals has always been a player to drive forward with the ball with his dribbling and by using it, he can look to start attacks via players like Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic.
Even Andreas Iniesta wanted Fornals to be his replacement in the No.8 position at Barcelona. Plus, playing alongside a resurgent Santi Cazorla, Fornals will only but improve with time on his side. Pellegrini will try and use him in that No.10 position ahead of the midfield pivot of Declan Rice and Mark Noble. So, expect a lot of creativity from the Spaniard.
Considering his record of being an all action midfielder and the injury record of Lanzini, Fornals will be expected to be a starting No.10 for the Hammers. So a price of around £6m-£7m would be ideal if you are looking for a cheaper option in an attacking area with a scope for a lot of bonus points.
West Ham have an opening 5 fixtures against; Manchester City (H), Brighton (A), Watford (A), Norwich (H) and Aston Villa (A). Ignoring the opening fixture, West Ham’s fixtures are extremely favorable and will be popular picks if priced right.
Written by Tamish Behal (@Tamish_Behal)