Football News

West Ham sign creative midfielder Pablo Fornals from Villarreal

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 12:41, 14 June 2019

West Ham have confirmed the signing of Pablo Fornals from Villarreal.

The 23-year-old Spanish attacking midfielder becomes the club’s second-most expensive signing behind Felipe Anderson.

Who is Pablo Fornals? Five things to know…

  • Age: 23
  • Position: CAM
  • Career path: Malaga B (2014-15) > Malaga (15-17) > Villarreal (2017-2019) > West Ham
  • Key stat: Since the beginning of the 2017/18 season, only one La Liga midfielder – Sevilla’s Pablo Sarabia (18) – has provided more assists than Fornals (15)
  • Did you know? Fornals’ football idols growing up were Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Adriano and Zidane.

Fornals, who began his playing career at Villarreal, returned to the club following a brief spell at Málaga (2015-17) where Hammers sporting director Mario Husillos worked in a similar role.

He’d register seven goals across 63 appearances in all competitions for the Andalusian side before the Yellow Submarine re-signed him in 2017. Fornals would subsequently play 96 times scoring nine goals in the process.

A two-year association, though, has ended this summer with a switch to east London.

The Castellón-born footballer, who has collected two senior international caps with Spain, will join his new teammates following this summer’s Uefa European Under-21 Championship, but to say he’s delighted is an understatement.

“I’m very happy to be part of West Ham,” he told the club’s official website. “I feel very good, very happy and very grateful for the opportunity that has been provided to me.

“I want the Club to continue betting on young and ambitious people, people who want to do well for the long term. I know about the loyal fans and the stadium, which is a beautiful stadium. The fans fill the stadium every weekend and that is something admirable, especially with the passion with which football is lived there. I think it is important to play with the support of your fans at home.

“I have worked with Mario before – I know him from when I was in Malaga. With Manuel, only when I saw him and admired him on TV. Of course, Manuel was a big influence because in the end he is one of the best coaches in the world and who doesn’t want to work with people like that?!”

Husillos’ gets his man

West Ham appointed Mario Husillos as their director of football immediately after hiring Manuel Pellegrini — whom he worked alongside at Malaga — as manager. Fornals has been a long-term target for Husillos and he’s proud to have got his man.

“We are very happy to welcome Pablo to West Ham United as our third new signing this summer,” he said.

“He is a player we have monitored closely for some time, having seen him make excellent progress as a young midfielder in one of the best leagues in the world. 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.

“This is something that is very important for us at West Ham United now – not only a very good player but also a very good person with a good mentality.”

“To represent Spain as a full international at the age of 20, and then to have made over 150 appearances in La Liga by the age of 23, is a sign of great quality and character. He joins us a young player still with many years ahead of him, yet with strong experience and already proven at the very highest level,” he added.

“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. Now he will go to Italy to play for Spain in the Under-21 European Championships, where we hope we will have success before coming to London.

“We look forward to seeing the impact he will have in a West Ham shirt, and believe that he has all of the qualities required to become a big success in the Premier League.”