/Pablo Fornals: Profile on the West Ham United signing loved by Andres Iniesta and famed for his dribbling

Pablo Fornals: Profile on the West Ham United signing loved by Andres Iniesta and famed for his dribbling

FACTFILE

But don’t sleep on the Spanish midfielder’s hard-running either, despite his attacking flair

West Ham United have completed the signing of Spain international Pablo Fornals.

The midfielder joins in a £24million deal from Villarreal, who struggled in LaLiga last term, finishing 14th.

West Ham United’s new signing Pablo Fornals in action at Villarreal

Getty Images

West Ham United’s new signing Pablo Fornals in action at Villarreal

Here’s how the opening weekend of the Premier League will get under way for the 2019/20 season

He gained plenty of admirers early on last year with some exceptional pieces of skill in Spain and will now get to strut his stuff on the Premier League stage.

Fornals is a versatile player capable of occupying numerous roles and will undoubtedly add more flair to the Hammers’ squad.

But just who is the 23-year-old Manuel Pellegrini has pounced for early in the transfer window? talkSPORT.com takes a look.

Pablo Fornals – 2018/19

Age: 23

Club: Villarreal

Position: Midfielder

Nationality: Spanish

LaLiga appearances – 35

Europa League appearances – 12

Goals: 5

Assists – 6

Passes per 90 – 43.9

Pass success – 79.3 per cent

Key passes per 90 – 1.9

Successful dribbles per 90 – 1.4

Shots per 90 – 2.1

 

Club career so far?

The Spaniard began his youth career with Villarreal but eventually joined Malaga aged 16, via CD Castellon.

Having signed in 2012 and spent some time in the reserves, Fornals made his debut in 2015 against Real Madrid and helped his side to a 0-0 draw.

After two full seasons at La Rosaleda he was snapped up by the Yellow Submarine where’s he’s become a key cog in the team, operating in an attacking role but working hard off the ball too.

International experience?

Already a Spain Under-21 star, Fornals made his senior debut back in 2016 under Vicente del Bosque but had to wait until late 2018 to feature a second time.

His early season form in 2018/19 saw him return to the international fold again and he came off the bench against Bosnia and Herzegovina last November, replacing Dani Ceballos.

Fornals in action for Spain’s Under-21s in 2017

Getty Images

Fornals in action for Spain’s Under-21s in 2017

What is being said about him?

“When he does well he is a top player, and when he is less successful, too, because of the work he does. He is a player who goes one hundred percent in each game.” – Villarreal head coach Javier Calleja

“He is a top player because he has a facility to understand the huge game. And then it is to want and grow, and Pablo wants and grows every day. He has character and never conforms. If you score a goal, you want two, if you play well, you want to do better. He leaves everything in the field.” – Villarreal head coach Javier Calleja

How will he fit in to West Ham’s team?

Fornals is capable of playing in numerous positions in midfield thanks to his tactical nous, tireless running, fine passing and excellent dribbling.

With Villarreal this year, the 23-year-old spent time as a central midfielder, a No.10 and a winger – while he even also played as a forward.

At the end of last season we saw the Hammers move to a 4-2-3-1 with great success and Fornals is likely to be battling Manuel Lanzini for the starting role as the team’s attacking midfielder.

Dribbling at pace between the lines or helping switch the play, Fornals won’t quite be the man laying on goals. He will instead be getting the ball forward into dangerous areas for the likes of Felipe Anderson, Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio to do the business.

Fornals chases Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta

Getty Images

Fornals chases Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta

This will see Mark Noble and Declan Rice as a duo behind them, protecting West Ham from counter attacks and providing a base to return to, especially if full-backs like Ryan Fredericks have got down the flanks.

Expect Fornals to get bums off seats too thanks to his quick feet and silky skills; the Hammers look set to be a lot more entertaining with the Spaniard in their ranks.

But Fornals isn’t just a show pony.

He excels at slide-rule through balls and was a more than willing participant in the defensive work with Villarreal and often ran around 13kms per game as he closed down opponents when out of possession.

Before leaving Barcelona, Andres Iniesta reportedly suggested Fornals could be his replacement in the No. 8 role at the Camp Nou.

How West Ham could look with Fornals

How West Ham could look with Fornals