West Ham have completed the signing of Villarreal midfielder Pablo Fornals for a reported fee of £24 million ($30m).
The 23-year-old was a regular with the Liga side in the 2018-19 campaign, with the Yellow Submarine finishing 14th in the table and reaching the quarter-finals for the Europa League, where they were beaten by Valencia.
Indeed, he created 22 chances from open play in Europe’s secondary competition last season, with only Eintracht Frankfurt’s Filip Kostic (27) having made more.
The Hammers have confirmed that Fornals, who is part of Spain’s squad for the Under-21 European Championship, has signed a five-year contract with the Premier League club, with the option for a further year.
Speaking to their official website after his move was confirmed, Fornals said: “I’m very happy to be part of West Ham. 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 [Husillos, West Ham’s sporting director] before – I know him from when I was in Malaga. With Manuel [Pellegrini], 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 also expressed his delight at the signing and tipped him to make an impact in the Premier League. He said: “He [Fornals] 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.
“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 Championship, 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.”