West Ham United is delighted to announce the signing of highly sought-after Spain international attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals.
A creative, technically-gifted playmaker with an eye for goal, Fornals joins the Hammers from Villarreal, for whom he has excelled in both La Liga and the UEFA Europa League.
Fornals, who becomes the second most-expensive signing in the Club’s history behind Felipe Anderson, has signed a five-year contract, with an option of a further year, after undergoing a successful medical at Spire London East Hospital.
Just 23, the Castellon-born player has already made more than 150 senior appearances and will join up with Manuel Pellegrini’s squad after representing his country at this summer’s UEFA European U21 Championship finals.
I want the Club to continue giving opportunities to young and ambitious people, people who want to do well for the long term
“I’m very happy to be part of West Ham,” Fornals told whufc.com from Madrid, where he has been preparing for the tournament. “I feel very good, very happy and very grateful for the opportunity that has been provided to me.
“I want the Club to continue giving opportunities to 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?!”
Fornals adds yet another dimension to the Hammers’ creative midfield ranks, joining the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko, Mark Noble, Declan Rice and Robert Snodgrass.
One of Europe’s most highly-rated young attacking midfielders, Fornals spent time with Villarreal and Castellon as a schoolboy before joining Malaga at the age of 16 in 2012.
There, he worked under West Ham’s director of football Mario Husillos, who saw the youngster progress through the B team to make his La Liga debut at Real Madrid, aged 19, in September 2015.
We believe that Pablo's style and ability perfectly complements the midfielders already at the Club, and we are very pleased to have secured his signing
Husillos is looking forward to being reunited with the player, saying: “We are very happy to welcome Pablo to West Ham United as our third new signing this summer.
“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.
“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.”
Despite his tender years, Fornals immediately became a first-team regular at Villarreal, making 63 appearances across two seasons, scoring seven goals and playing his part in many more.
That form saw him capped by Spain, first at U21 level and then by the seniors, for whom he debuted in Switzerland in May 2016, aged just 20.
The following summer, Villarreal moved to take Fornals back to El Madrigal, where he has become an integral part of The Yellow Submarine’s starting eleven over the past two seasons.
Playing alongside the likes of Santi Cazorla, who his playing style has been favourably compared with, the No8 has caught the eye regularly, scoring a memorable winner in Villarreal’s first-ever La Liga victory at Real Madrid, and a stunning 50-yard strike in a win at Athletic Bilbao - the same team he could make his home debut against in the Betway Cup at London Stadium on Saturday 3 August.
A second Spain cap arrived in a home win over Bosnia in November last year and Fornals is tipped for further senior honours in the future.
Everyone at West Ham United would like to welcome Pablo to London Stadium and wish him every success for his career in Claret and Blue.