The most expensive Premier League summer transfers rated so far, including Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea stars

5 Sep

The Premier League has paused for the international break so now is the perfect time to assess the early-season form of some of the new signings in the division.

Having seen four matches so far, we can safely say some of the business done has been excellent and some of it has been mystifying.

Ndombele was brought to Spurs from Lyon earlier this summer for £55million
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There are always winners and losers in the transfer market as not every club can keep hold of their best players and also sign improvements.

So who do believe has been the best signings so far? Find out below…

15. Ismaila Sarr (Stade Rennais – Watford) – £27m

After a summer spent at the African Cup of Nations with Senegal, it is understandable that it has been a slow start for Sarr at Vicarage Road.

However, Hornets fans caught a glimpse of his quality after he netted a beauty against Coventry in the Carabao Cup and he is sure to have many more chances to prove his worth.

Sarr will need time to adapt to the Premier League
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14. Joao Cancelo (Juventus – Manchester City) – £60m

Cancelo missed pre-season and therefore Pep Guardiola has been reluctant to hand him a first start as he gears up his fitness for the Premier league.

The Portuguese has looked assured off the bench and the full-back will surely become a first-team regular after the international break.

13. Ayoze Perez (Newcastle – Leicester) – £30m

Perez started in the opening three matches of the season but struggled to make an impact in the side and was subsequently dropped by Brendan Rodgers for the match against Bournemouth on the weekend.

Competition has never hurt anyone and the ex-Newcastle striker will have to prove his worth to his boss in the coming weeks to get back into the side.

Perez has struggled to make an impact so far for Leicester
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12. Pablo Fornals (Villarreal – West Ham) – £25m

Fornals will need time to adjust to the Premier League and it looks like the more he plays the more he is adjusting to the tempo of the English game.

He had a run out in the Carabao Cup and scored against Newport County but will be looking to break into the first-team in the league in the coming weeks.

11. Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon to Tottenham) – £55m

Ndombele had a good start in the Lilywhite shirt after netting his side’s equaliser against Aston Villa with a beauty of a strike.

However, injury has forced him out in recent weeks but he will be looking to continue his solid start after the international break.

10. Nicolas Pepe (Lille to Arsenal) – £72m

Arsenal’s club record signing has looked dangerous at times and is proving to be a real handful for defences.

The Ivorian just needs a goal to kick start his his Gunners career and so far he hasn’t shown composure in front of goal but he has plenty of skill.

Pepe has shown signs of promise in the early stages of his Arsenal career

9. Joelinton (Hoffenheim – Newcastle) – £40m

Newcastle had a difficult start to the campaign and the Brazilian struggled to make an impact as they were dominated by Arsenal and Norwich, but he has now seemingly come into his own.

Against Spurs he was a constant menace up front, holding the ball well and making direct, effective runs, reaping the rewards of his efforts with a goal.

8. Alex Iwobi – (Arsenal – Everton) £28m

The ex-Gunner has looked dangerous for the Toffees whenever he has been called upon and he scored his first goal for the club over the weekend against Wolves in an impressive performance.

He will now be hoping to kick on and have his best season in the Premier League to date.

Iwobi netted hist first goal for Everton on the weekend
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7. Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid to Chelsea) – £40m

Kovacic was Chelsea’s only signing of the summer due to their transfer ban as he was already registered to the club following his loan move from Real Madrid in 2018.

The Croat has started this season very well, impressing with his surging runs from midfield and dribbling ability.

6. Rodri (Atletico Madrid to Manchester City) – £63m

Rodri has had a couple dodgy moments but on the whole he has looked an assured presence in the midfield when called upon by Guardiola.

At just 24 years old, he is the natural successor to Fernandinho and you sense he will be mightily impressive in the role given what we have seen of his technical ability so far.

Rodri is seen as the heir to Fernandinho
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5. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace to Manchester United) – £50m

Wan-Bissaka looks unbeatable in one-on-one situations but the Man United defence is still leaking goals due to the midfield being overrun.

Solskjaer needs to find cover for the back four as they are more than capable than defending well but just need more protection higher up the pitch.

4. Harry Maguire (Leicester to Manchester United) – £85m

Maguire had a brilliant debut performance against Chelsea but results have turned sour since then.

He will undoubtedly prove to be a good acquisition for the club but as previously mentioned, Solskjaer needs to sort out his midfield otherwise the defence are left with too much to do.

Maguire will eventually become a great signing for United
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3. Raul Jimenez  (Benfica – Wolves)  – £34m

This signing has gone under the radar because it was agreed in January but what a coup for Wolves it is nonetheless.

Jimenez was one of the best strikers in the league last season and he is continuing to prove a handful up top this term, having scored his first of the campaign against Everton on the weekend.

2. Youri Tielemans (Monaco – Leicester) – £40m

Despite impressing in each match so far, Tielemans only got off the mark in the 3-1 win over Bournemouth over the weekend.

The Belgium international was a revelation for the Foxes in the second half of last season and he has picked up where he left off this campaign.

Tielemans impressed during his brief loan spell at Leicester last season
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1. Sebastien Haller (Eintracht Frankurt – West Ham) – £35m

Haller had a difficult start to life at the London Stadium but in the last two games he has really come into his own.

He seems be in the right position at the right time constantly, and having netted twice from close range against Watford and against Norwich – West Ham have seemingly signed a real dime in the Frenchman.

Haller found the net again for West Ham against Norwich
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10 bargain Premier League transfers of the summer, so far

7 Aug

As the transfer window closes, Premier League clubs get to look back and assess their business.

Some deals are always going to be big. Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City were never going to get Tanguy Ndombele and Rodri for peanuts. There are some bargains to be had if you look in the right place.

Tanguy Ndombele in action for Tottenham against Juventus
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Of course, we can’t know for sure if a player has been bought on the cheap until they finally get their careers on the go in the English top flight.

It won’t stop us from casting our eyes over the talent acquired and offering our opinion though.

So, who do we think have been the best deals of the summer in the Premier League? Find out below.


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Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) – loan

Okay, there is no purchase option in the deal which makes it a real pain but, let’s face it, the young Spaniard is a quality midfielder.

If his abilities in the centre of the pitch can propel the Gunners into the top four his temporary switch will have been a huge success at a vital time for the club.

Ceballos isn’t afraid on the ball and will always look to take it off a team-mate to try and help his side progress downfield, exactly what Unai Emery needs.

Arsenal’s new midfield ace Ceballos will add creativity
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Jack Stacey (Bournemouth) – £4million

Sure, going from League One to the Premier League is tough but many are confident Stacey can do it.

He has to force his way into the reckoning, which is tough with Adam Smith around, but given his ability to get goals and assists from the back we shouldn’t put it past him.

He netted four times last year and created eight, he could be a real dark horse and is only 23.

Jack Stacey grabbed an assist against Brentford during pre-season.
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Fabian Delph (Everton) – £8.5million

The Toffees have lost Idrissa Gueye this summer, which is a huge blow, but they have brought in a solid and versatile leader in Delph.

Trusted by one of the world’s best coaches, Pep Guardiola, he will do a fine job and bring his nous and experience to Goodison Park – and for a bargain fee.

Fabian Delph could be a vital member of Marco Silva’s squad
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Daniel James (Manchester United) – £15million

In pre-season, the Welsh international has already shown he’s going to be a handful.

His actual goal contribution may be slow to start with as he gets used to the step up in quality but his pace on the counter will cause teams all sorts of problems.

James ruffled feathers in July against Tottenham as Moussa Sissoko struggled to handle him, resulting in a few ugly challenges.

Expect him to win free-kicks and penalties, especially with VAR around.

Manchester United’s Daniel James looked in fine fettle against Tottenham
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Ralf Fahrmann (Norwich City) – loan

The Canaries already have one experienced goalkeeper in Tim Krul but now they’ve got former Schalke No.1 Fahrmann too.

This gives them great options throughout the campaign and a solid starter for cup games too.

The German should start ahead of Krul but if not he’s still smart business.

Can Fahrmann usurp Krul between the sticks at Carrow Road?
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Ravel Morrison (Sheffield United) – Free transfer

If the midfielder can discover anything like some of the form he showed during his successful period at West Ham, the Blades are onto a winner.

Injuries are a concern but exceptional man manager Chris Wilder might just be the coach to get the best from Morrison.

On a free transfer it’s worth the risk.

Can Morrison finally show his true ability at Bramall Lane?
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Dean Henderson (Sheffield United) – loan

Like Arsenal’s swoop for Ceballos, the Blades have landed Henderson, who was with them last term, without an option to buy.

His form was so good last season with Sheffield United in the Championship he earned a new deal at Old Trafford.

If he does similarly this season then he will help keep them in the Premier League which would be very impressive indeed.

Henderson played a big role in helping Sheffield United get back into the top flight
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Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) – £14million

A bit of an unknown to some, the Senegalese wide man is set to terrorise Premier League right-backs up and down the country.

How well he can make the step up from the Belgian top flight is yet to be seen but his direct style will, at the very least, make him a threat on the counter as Ralph Hasenhuttl shakes up his Saints.

Moussa Djenepo signed a four-year contract with Southampton
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Craig Dawson (Watford) – £5.5million

Not the most glamorous signing in the world, Dawson will help shore up the Hornets’ defence and also give them a focal point at set-pieces.

We won’t be surprised if he ends the season with four or five goals and helps them remain in the top ten.

Craig Dawson was an ever-present for West Brom last season, and now faces a return to the Premier League with
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Pablo Fornals (West Ham) – £24million

He may not have been as prolific in 2018/19 as he was for Villarreal in 2017/18 but Fornals is a fantastic talent.

The Hammers have signed a real gem and his combination with Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller will be intriguing.

Get it right and Manuel Pellegrini might be taking West Ham into Europe next year.

West Ham United’s new signing Pablo Fornals in action at Villarreal
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Pablo Fornals: Why West Ham’s summer transfer proves they’re scouting smarter and could crack the top six

17 Jul

With the transfer window giving us plenty of exciting signings this summer Total Football Analysis are helping run the rule over the best of the bunch.

One of the themes of modern football in recent seasons has been certain teams, seemingly, become ‘smarter’ in the transfer market.

Increased focus on recruitment at the likes of Liverpool, in the wake of their Champions League triumph, has led to even greater scrutiny on how and why clubs make their decisions to acquire players.

It appears West Ham are changing their approach to transfers
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Recently this has even spread to an interest in the people who make up the departments which track and identify players to target.

While certain teams have recruited in a coherent manner, signing players who fix weaknesses in their squads and succession planning for when players inevitably move on, others still seemed to adopt something of a scattergun approach.

Of all the teams in this latter group, the term ‘scattergun’ probably could best be applied to West Ham United in the Premier League.

Under their current ownership there did not appear to be a clear strategy, even after the appointment of an established Premier League calibre coach in the Chilean Manuel Pellegrini.

That was, however, until the start of the current transfer window when the London club moved quickly to sign Spanish attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals.

The 23-year-old Spaniard was extremely highly regarded both by more traditional football minds and those who adopt a statistical approach to player identification.

Fornals impressed playing for Villarreal
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A product of the Villarreal youth academy, Formals made the move to Malaga while still playing for the youth team. After making the breakthrough and debuting in LaLiga we then saw the midfielder head back to his boyhood club, re-signing with Villarreal in 2017.

The 2018/19 season was a breakout campaign for Fornals as he played across the attacking midfield positions of the pitch.

Predominantly right-footed, Formals is comfortable playing on the right, as an orthodox winger, or on the left where he can cut inside and threaten the opposition goal.

More tellingly for West Ham fans, though, Fornals can also play in the traditional ‘10’ role, a position that West Ham may try to use more often as they move into the 2019/20 season.

Formations West Ham used last season[/caption]

For the most part, last season we saw West Ham line up in either a 4-4-2 or a 4-1-4-1 system and in either of these Fornals would fit in well in either wide midfield role.

Towards the latter stages of the season, though, we saw a shift to a 4-2-3-1 and in this structure we could well see Fornals flourish in the English Premier League.

Where Fornals took his touches for Villarreal last season[/caption]

As you can see from the heat map of Fornals last season, he played predominantly from the left-hand side but also spent time out on the right and in the centre. With the Brazilian Felipe Anderson firmly embedded on the left for West Ham we expect to see Fornals play predominantly from the right or the centre.

In this tactical analysis, we will examine Fornals in more detail in order to show West Ham fans what they can expect going into the new season.

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Intelligent Passing

Given that Fornals is a Spanish attacking midfielder you would be forgiven for expecting a diminutive figure who has the capacity for breaking through the lines of the opposition defence with his passing.

Well, the latter is certainly true but Fornals stands at just under 6ft tall and certainly has the physicality he will need to stand up to defenders in the Premier League.

In terms of his passing, Fornals is creative in using passing lanes and angles to release teammates through beyond the defensive line of the opposition. Although, as discussed above, Formals is predominantly right-footed it is not unusual to see him receive and play from his left side.

With the Spaniard comfortable on each foot it means he is incredibly press resistant, so when in possession he is not dispossessed by the opposition easily, this also means though that when in the final third Fornals is able to take advantage of passing angles other players, who are one-footed, may not be able to.


Without breaking stride he reverses the through pass slightly and plays through the gap between the left-back and left-sided central defender. Whilst moving across the pitch in this position the Spaniard had seemed intent on playing out to the wide area. The through pass catches the opposition off guard and off-balance because he had not even looked at the runner of the space.

This type of spatial and tactical awareness makes if very difficult for opposing defences to account for Fornals.


This time he is in a central position and is faced by one defensive player who has a teammate covering him at an angle. This is traditionally a strong defensive structure.

As he collects possession, Fornals can see a teammate making eye contact on the edge of the box. This is a cue between the two of them that a run is going to be made.

In order to play the ball through, though, a passing lane has to be created. To do this this we see Fornals initially shift quickly to his right before cutting back and moving left. As he does this he unbalances the first defender. This shifting of balance gives him the space to play through a line to the left of the first defender and the right of the second defender. A goalscoring opportunity is then created.

Fornals could prove to be one of the signings of the summer
@WestHamUtd on Twitter

1vs1 Ability

As well as being a dangerous passer of the ball in advanced areas of the pitch, Fornals is also capable of beating a player through dribbling in 1v1 situations. This is of particular significance if Fornals is played centrally going into next season.

From this position, being able to beat a man and move past them automatically throws the defensive organisation of the opposition into chaos.

This movement forces another opposition player to move towards the ball to engage the ball carrier, this, in turn, creates space that can be exploited further up the field.

Last season, in 4,703 minutes we saw Fornals attempt a total of 176 dribbles with a success rate of 60.8 per cent. This shows just how effective the Spaniard was when driving at opposition players and taking them on.


In the space of a few seconds, he has driven past three close defensive players and is able to burst into the opposition half.

Thanks to this, Villarreal immediately find themselves in a favourable position as they attack.


A similar situation here but this time in a more advanced area of the pitch.

We see Fornals in possession of the ball on the left and, although he has a player positioned outside, his first thought is still to drive forward.

In order to do so, we see him move past the first defender before finding two covering players closing him down.

Fornals, though, has the confidence and quality to take on both the men, beating them and moving his team into a hugely advantageous position.

Intelligent defending

As well as being extremely effective in the attacking phase we also see Fornals contribute well in the defensive one.

He presses well and also tracks back, covering for his teammates as they look to engage the ball.

In short, with Fornals you get creative passing in the final third combined with a prodigious work rate and defensive understanding.

He also reads the game well and gains a lot of interceptions as he cuts out passing lanes at the last minute.


As the Portuguese side were looking to build up from the back and advance the ball forward, the central defender was being put under pressure.

This act of applying pressure was a sign for Fornals to move higher in order to deny the man on the ball the opportunity to escape pressure with a simple pass out to the wide area.

As the defensive player looks to play the pass we see Fornals jump the ball in order to win it back and start an attack for his team.


We see a similar situation here as the opposition are looking to progress the ball forward.

As the initial pass is made successfully into the opposing player in a central position we see Fornals read the game in order to win the ball back cleanly.

The first pass finds a player facing his own goal. As the opponent receives the ball there is a Villarreal player looking to apply pressure and the receiving player looks to play first time out to the wide area. This pass is read by Fornals as the Spaniard moves to cut out the ball successfully.


There is little to not be positive about regarding the decision from West Ham to sign Pablo Fornals.

The Spaniard offers the creativity and work rate of two different players and his versatility makes him a very useful player to have in the squad.

He can fill three distinct roles within the attacking third and in each one he offers something slightly different.

So, West Ham are recruiting in an intelligent manner. Does this mean that they will be able to threaten the top six going into the 2019/20 season? That remains to be seen but finding out will be interesting.

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West Ham transfer news: How Hammers could look next season with Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals

16 Jul

Following Marko Arnautovic’s departure to China, West Ham’s priority was to sign a new striker.

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts after Uruguayan frontman Maxi Gomez opted to join Valencia from Celta Vigo earlier this month.

Arnautovic has left West Ham for Shanghai SIPG

However, the Hammers have found their Arnautovic replacement as Eintracht Frankfurt’s Sebastien Haller has joined the Premier League club.

West Ham agreed a deal for the Frenchman, 25, which is thought to be worth around £45million.

Haller scored 19 goals for Frankfurt in all competitions last season, a decent return given he had to compete with the likes of Luka Jovic and Ante Rebic for game time.

Striker Haller is on his way to West Ham

This has been a busy summer window for West Ham which has seen them get rid of the likes of Lucas Perez and the injury-prone Andy Carroll.

They also sealed a deal for exciting Spain midfielder Pablo Fornals on a five-year contract earlier this summer.

With Haller and Fornals, West Ham have the potential to be a formidable team next season and has taken a look at how they might look in the 2019/20 campaign.

Option 1 – 4-1-4-1

The Hammers adopted this system last season and they’re becoming a more solid outfit having won their last three matches of the season.

Declan Rice should be a regular in the holding role but further up the pitch is where the changes in personnel could happen.

Ahead of Rice will be a midfield four which should see Fornals play alongside veteran Mark Noble but the Spaniard would have the more technical and attacking role, while Felipe Anderson and Michail Antonio could go on the left and right wings respectively.

Haller is a striker similar to Arnautovic in that he can hold up the ball well so should do just fine on his own up top.

West Ham played a similar system to this last season

Option 2 – 4-1-4-1 (Attacking)

However, the signings of Haller and Fornals could see West Ham go more attacking instead.

In this system, Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini could opt to play the Spaniard in an attacking midfield role alongside Manuel Lanzini, who is a fan favourite.

Anderson is on the left while Andriy Yarmolenko, who sustained a torn Achilles early last season could go on the right.

But this system would leave Noble struggling for a place in the starting XI. At the age of 32, his West Ham career could be coming to a gradual end.

Could West Ham be a more attacking team next season?

Option 3 – 4-3-3

Pellegrini may go for a very positive style of play following Haller’s arrival and could even try a 4-3-3 system.

Haller would be at the tip of the front line and would effectively bring the likes of Anderson, Lanzini and Yarmolenko into the game.

West Ham would have a midfield three with Rice in the holding role, alongside Noble and Fornals.

Fornals would have more licence to join the attacks due to his great quality which he showcased during the Under-21 European Championship in the summer.

Could Haller and Fornals’ arrivals see them adopt a new system?

Option 4 – 4-2-2-2

Former Manchester City boss could go back to winning formula after bringing in Haller and Fornals.

He used this formation successfully at Villarreal and at City but it could put a couple of fan favourites on the fringe.

Rice would, more than likely, form a shield with Noble or Jack Wilshere, allowing Arthur Masuaku and Ryan Fredericks to push further forward.

The high full-backs should see Anderson and Fornals operating behind a front two of Haller and Javier Hernandez, who was recently given the no.9 shirt.

Haller’s all-round ability would complement that of a poacher like Chicharito and could see them both in the goals.

Another option for Pellegrini with his new signings?

West Ham fans rave about new signing Pablo Fornals after brilliant assist for Spain Under-21s

28 Jun

West Ham new boy Pablo Fornals has shone at the Under-21 European Championship for Spain.

His performances were encapsulated on Thursday night for Spain’s Under-21 side with an outside of the boot, curling assist that sent Hammers fans into a frenzy on Twitter.

New boy Pablo Fornals has starred for Spain in Italy

Many fans have been quick to see the resemblance between him and a true football legend, the 23-year old has been tipped to fill the shoes of the great Andres Iniesta, whose retirement left Spain with a lack of creativity in the centre of the pitch.

The playmaker, who moved to West Ham from Villarreal for around £24 million. is known for his incisive passing, dribbling, technical ability and his tendency to score wonder goals, such as his ‘Rabona’ goal against Huesca earlier this year.

Who could forget his thunderbolt against Belgium earlier in the tournament? The decisive goal in a 2-1 win left many West Ham fans dreaming of the glorious days to come, watching their new magician at the London Stadium.

The Spaniard was drawn to the east London club due to his previous connections with their director of football, Mario Husillos. The pair worked together at Malaga, but the attacking midfielder is particularly excited by the prospect of working under Manuel Pellegrini.



Pablo Fornals' game by numbers vs. France U21s...

  • 100% take-ons completed
  • 100% shot accuracy
  • 90% pass accuracy
  • 4 chances created
  • 2 aerial duels won
  • 2 interceptions
  • 2 fouls won
  • 2 take-ons
  • 2 shots
  • 1 assist

Fornals told the club’s official website he felt the Hammers boss is ‘one of the best coaches in the world’. He described the Chilean as a ‘big influence’ in his decision and went onto rave about the ‘loyal fans’ and ‘beautiful stadium’.

The Premier League newcomer appears to be saying all the right things as the Hammers fans have fallen in love with the player who is yet to make an appearance wearing the notorious claret and blue.

The young star’s mesmerising assist during Spain’s 4-1 victory against France did little to dispel the idea that Fornals is the signing of the summer, and he could prove to be a crucial player if the Irons are to break into Europe next season.

Fornals curled the ball with the outside of his boot to the back stick
Sky Sports
The midfielder put it onto a plate for Borja Mayoral

See below for a selection of the best Tweets reacting to Pablo Fornals’ incredible assist in the Under-21 European Championship.

Pablo Fornals: West Ham new boy excites fans with sensational late winner for Spain Under-21s

20 Jun

Pablo Fornals has sent West Ham fans into a frenzy with a stunning last-gasp winner for Spain Under-21s at Euro 2019.

The 23-year-old joined the Hammers last week after sealing a £24million switch from Villarreal.

Fornals could prove to be one of the signings of the summer
@WestHamUtd on Twitter

And the highly-rated attacking midfielder gave West Ham fans a glimpse of what they can expect during Wednesday’s clash against Belgium Under-21s.

With the scores level at 1-1, Fornals carried the ball from deep and smashed home a bullet from the edge of the area with just a minute remaining.

It was a crucial result for the Spaniards, who lost their opening game 3-1 to Italy.

And now, Hammers fans can’t wait to see similar scenes at the London Stadium next season.

Here’s all the best reaction on Twitter:



Manuel Pellegrini had said of Fornals: “He was a key target we identified some time ago and it is a big positive that we have managed to complete the deal early in the transfer window.

“I would like to thank the board for their support and work in completing the transfer.

“Pablo is a young, hungry and talented player who has already proven his ability at the highest level in Spain, and we believe he will bring a different dimension and a strong mentality to the team.

Pablo Fornals has been capped twice by Spain

“He has made a big impact in his time with Villarreal and we look forward to seeing him continue his progress here.

“His signing means that we now have very good midfield options in the squad.

“With players coming back from injury and ready to begin pre-season training with the rest of the squad, we have a very good balance and mix of styles.”

West Ham United fans ‘already impressed’ by Pablo Fornals as new signing earns comparison to Dimitri Payet

17 Jun

West Ham United supporters excited by the signing of Spanish star Pablo Fornals were given a glimpse of his talents last night.

The 23-year-old came on as a substitute for his nation at the European Under-21 Championship as they lost 3-1 to Italy.

Fornals in action for Spain’s Under-21s
Getty Images

Hammers fans might not have known too much about the talented midfielder, who joined for £24million from Villarreal last week, but they were impressed by their new star’s 23-minute cameo.

Replacing Igor Zubeldia of Real Sociedad, he completed all of his 15 passes in that time, while also managing two successful dribbles – only three players made more across the 90 minutes.

And it’s fair to say West Ham fans were excited by what they saw, as you can see from some of the reactions on Twitter below.

Pablo Fornals: Profile on the West Ham United signing loved by Andres Iniesta and famed for his dribbling skils

14 Jun

West Ham United have completed the signing of Spain international Pablo Fornals.

The midfielder joins in a £24million deal from Villarreal, who struggled in LaLiga last term, finishing 14th.

West Ham United’s new signing Pablo Fornals in action at Villarreal
Getty Images

He gained plenty of admirers early on last year with some exceptional pieces of skill in Spain and will now get to strut his stuff on the Premier League stage.

Fornals is a versatile player capable of occupying numerous roles and will undoubtedly add more flair to the Hammers’ squad.

But just who is the 23-year-old Manuel Pellegrini has pounced for early in the transfer window? takes a look.

Pablo Fornals - 2018/19

Age: 23

Club: Villarreal

Position: Midfielder

Nationality: Spanish

LaLiga appearances – 35

Europa League appearances – 12

Goals: 5

Assists – 6

Passes per 90 – 43.9

Pass success – 79.3 per cent

Key passes per 90 – 1.9

Successful dribbles per 90 – 1.4

Shots per 90 – 2.1


Club career so far?

The Spaniard began his youth career with Villarreal but eventually joined Malaga aged 16, via CD Castellon.

Having signed in 2012 and spent some time in the reserves, Fornals made his debut in 2015 against Real Madrid and helped his side to a 0-0 draw.

After two full seasons at La Rosaleda he was snapped up by the Yellow Submarine where’s he’s become a key cog in the team, operating in an attacking role but working hard off the ball too.

International experience?

Already a Spain Under-21 star, Fornals made his senior debut back in 2016 under Vicente del Bosque but had to wait until late 2018 to feature a second time.

His early season form in 2018/19 saw him return to the international fold again and he came off the bench against Bosnia and Herzegovina last November, replacing Dani Ceballos.

Fornals in action for Spain’s Under-21s in 2017
Getty Images

What is being said about him?

“When he does well he is a top player, and when he is less successful, too, because of the work he does. He is a player who goes one hundred percent in each game.” – Villarreal head coach Javier Calleja

“He is a top player because he has a facility to understand the huge game. And then it is to want and grow, and Pablo wants and grows every day. He has character and never conforms. If you score a goal, you want two, if you play well, you want to do better. He leaves everything in the field.” – Villarreal head coach Javier Calleja

How will he fit in to West Ham’s team?

Fornals is capable of playing in numerous positions in midfield thanks to his tactical nous, tireless running, fine passing and excellent dribbling.

With Villarreal this year, the 23-year-old spent time as a central midfielder, a No.10 and a winger – while he even also played as a forward.

At the end of last season we saw the Hammers move to a 4-2-3-1 with great success and Fornals is likely to be battling Manuel Lanzini for the starting role as the team’s attacking midfielder.

Dribbling at pace between the lines or helping switch the play, Fornals won’t quite be the man laying on goals. He will instead be getting the ball forward into dangerous areas for the likes of Felipe Anderson, Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio to do the business.

Fornals chases Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta
Getty Images

This will see Mark Noble and Declan Rice as a duo behind them, protecting West Ham from counter attacks and providing a base to return to, especially if full-backs like Ryan Fredericks have got down the flanks.

Expect Fornals to get bums off seats too thanks to his quick feet and silky skills; the Hammers look set to be a lot more entertaining with the Spaniard in their ranks.

But Fornals isn’t just a show pony.

He excels at slide-rule through balls and was a more than willing participant in the defensive work with Villarreal and often ran around 13kms per game as he closed down opponents when out of possession.

Before leaving Barcelona, Andres Iniesta reportedly suggested Fornals could be his replacement in the No. 8 role at the Camp Nou.

How West Ham could look with Fornals

Pablo Fornals: West Ham announce signing of Spain midfielder on five-year contract

14 Jun

West Ham have made Spain international midfielder Pablo Fornals their second most expensive signing ever, the Premier League club have confirmed

Fornals, 23, joins from Villarreal and has agreed a five-year contract with the Hammers, which includes the option of a 12-month extension.

West Ham said Fornals has become ‘the second most expensive signing in the club’s history behind Felipe Anderson‘, the Brazil forward who was signed last summer in a reported £34million deal.

Fornals is set to feature for Spain at the European Under-21 Championships in Italy.

“I’m very happy to be part of West Ham,” Fornals told the club 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 giving opportunities to young and ambitious people, people who want to do well for the long term.”

More follows.

West Ham transfer news: Hammers close to completing £22million signing of Villarreal star Pablo Fornals

11 Jun

West Ham are nearing the signing of Villarreal playmaker Pablo Fornals, according to reports.

According to Spanish outlet AS, the Hammers have moved for Fornals and are set to ‘finalise’ his signing for around £22million (€25m).

Fornals has impressed playing for Villarreal over the past couple of seasons

The report adds that the transfer could be made official ‘in the coming days’

Manuel Pellegrini is reportedly on the hunt for a technically gifted midfielder to complement Mark Noble and Declan Rice in the middle of the park.

Pellegrini, along with his assistant Mario Husillos, are looking at the Spanish top flight for potential targets and Fornals was linked with a move to the London Stadium in January but a deal never materialised.

Other clubs are monitoring the 23-year-old’s situation but West Ham showed the most interest and have wasted no time in pushing forward with negotiations.


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Fornal’s tally of five goals and six assists in 2018/19 is not wildly impressive, but his ability to dictate the tempo of a game and pick the right pass is an attractive to Pellegrini.

What’s more, a fee of £22million to secure his services represents a steal in the current market for a player of his age and quality, especially as Fornals is alleged to have a £29million release clause written in his contract.