West Ham have announced the signing of Villarreal’s Pablo Fornals, for a fee believed to be in the region of £24m.

“West Ham United is delighted to announce the signing of highly sought-after Spain international attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals,” a club statement said.

“I’m very happy to be part of West Ham,” Fornals said. “I feel very good, very happy and very grateful for the opportunity that has been provided to me.”

“I know about the loyal fans and the stadium, which is beautiful. Of course, Manuel [Pellegrini] was a big influence because he is one of the best coaches in the world, and who doesn’t want to work with people like that?”

Describing the 23-year-old as a “creative, technically-gifted playmaker with an eye for goal”, West Ham confirmed that he is the club’s second most expensive signing, behind Felipe Anderson, who joined for an initial £33.5m last summer.

Fornals is part of the Spain squad taking part in the Under-21 European Championship in Italy this month, and will join up with the Premier League club after the tournament.

Mario Husillos, the West Ham director of football, knows Fornals from his time at Málaga and moved quickly to sign the midfielder. “I know we have signed an incredible professional and an incredible character,” Husillos said. “He joins us a young player, yet with strong experience and already proven at the very highest level.”

The capture of Fornals, who has been capped twice by Spain, will be hugely satisfying for Pellegrini. West Ham’s manager is determined to strengthen his midfield and believes the 23-year-old, one of the brightest talents in La Liga, will improve his side’s creative prowess.

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West Ham were quick to move on after attempts to sign Andre Gómes ended when the Barcelona midfielder indicated a desire to join Everton, and have cooled their interest in Stanislav Lobotka after holding talks with Celta Vigo about the Slovakia midfielder last weekend. West Ham had spoken to Vigo about signing Lobotka and Maxi Gómez in a deal worth £50m.

Pellegrini wants a new striker after releasing Andy Carroll and selling Lucas Pérez to Alavés. He retains an interest in Gómez, although any agreement to sign the 22-year-old Uruguay forward remains some way off.

Fornals is West Ham’s third signing of the summer, following the arrivals of back-up goalkeepers Roberto and David Martin.



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