West Ham splash the cash to sign Spanish midfield star
PUBLISHED: 12:08 14 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:08 14 June 2019
Pablo Fornals joins the Hammers in five-year deal
West Ham have announced their first outfield signing of the summer as they swooped to capture Spain international attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals.
The Hammers are believed to have splashed out around £24 million for the creative, technically-gifted playmaker with an eye for goal.
Fornals joins from Villarreal, for whom he has excelled in both La Liga and the UEFA Europa League.
He becomes the second most-expensive signing in the club's history behind Felipe Anderson, and has signed a five-year contract, with an option of a further 12 months.
A lot of the credit for the signing goes to director of football Mario Husillos who knew the player during his time at Malaga and to get him over to England is quite a coup as he is considered one of the brightest prospects in La Liga.
Just 23, Fornals 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 under-21 Championship finals.
"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.
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"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."
He added: "I have worked with Mario before - I know him from when I was in Malaga."
Fornals will give more competition for West Ham in his favourite role behind the main striker. He will no doubt vie for a place with Manuel Lanzini who is currently in talks with the club over a new and improved contract.
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."
Despite the big money spent on Fornals, West Ham are still keen to add to their squad with Celta Vigo pair Maxi Gomez and Stanislav Lobotka both high on their shopping list.
West Ham have already signed goalkeepers Roberto and David Martin.