According to Sky Sports, West Ham United are closing in on the signing of central attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals of La Liga side Villarreal.
The 23-year-old is one of five to six midfield targets that Manuel Pellegrini and his recruitment team are hoping to have made progress on within the next fortnight.
Fornals is valued at £31m by his current club and Pellegrini has had his eye on him since the January transfer window where he failed to make any real notable additions.
During his short career so far, Fornals has progressed through the youth ranks of the Spanish national team to collect two caps at senior level, and spent much of his time on the domestic scene at Malaga and the Yellow Submarine.
West Ham’s advances for the Spaniard and other number tens such as Marseille’s Morgan Sanson have been interesting when there are perhaps other areas that need to be strengthened first.
If Fornals was to end up making the move to London Stadium his direct competition just behind the strikers would be Manuel Lanzini, but do his La Liga stats suggest that he would be able to challenge the Hammers’ current number ten and cut it in the Premier League?
Looking at the timid stats (via WhoScored) provided in the above infographic, the answer to that question is a comprehensive no.
In 35 appearances in the Spanish top flight in 2018/2019, the starlet fast maturing as he approaches his prime years could manage just five goal contributions – only two goals and three assists.
That figure is far from what’s expected of the modern number ten in the hardest league in the world – they’re anticipated to score nearly as much as the forwards and certainly weigh in with more goal contributions.
On top of this, Fornals averaged a sloppy 78.1% pass completion in a division of far inferior quality to the Premier League and poorly controlled the ball almost two times per game.
A lack of the ambition required from the top central attacking midfielders can also be seen in these stats and namely because of a flat 1.1 dribbles per game.
And if Fornals can only produce these figures in La Liga, there’s fat chance of him coming out with anything better at the highest level of English football.