West Ham completed the signing of promising Spanish international midfielder Pablo Fornals on Friday from Villarreal for a reported fee of £24 million ($30 million).
“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,” said West Ham in a statement.
The 23-year-old scored nine goals in 96 appearances for Villarreal, including a memorable late winner away to Real Madrid in January 2018, but is best known for his threat as a creator from midfield.
“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,” said West Ham director of football Mario Husillos, who previously worked with Fornals at Malaga.
“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.”
Fornals joins an array of attacking talent at the London Stadium, including Anderson, Marko Arnautovic and Andriy Yarmolenko and admitted that the chance to work with a former Malaga and Villarreal manager in Manuel Pellegrini helped convince him to move to the Hammers.
He told the club’s website: “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?
“I feel very good, very happy and very grateful for the opportunity that has been provided to me.”
West Ham finished 10th in the Premier League in Pellegrini’s first season in charge.