Pablo Fornals is under severe pressure to impress David Moyes against Liverpool on Sunday after West Ham United completed the signing of Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard on loan.
The Irons announced the capture of Lingard on a half-season deal on Friday, but will not be able to hand the England international his debut this weekend having failed to complete the paperwork and formalities in time.
Lingard had needed to finalise his move to the London Stadium by midday on Friday to be registered to face the Premier League champions, who West Ham will move above into fourth in the table with a win with two points all that currently separates the two sides.
West Ham have paid Manchester United £1.5m to sign Lingard and will cover his salary until the end of the season, with the intentions of utilising the £75,000-per-week maestro across the midfield line.
His arrival will threaten Fornals’ place in Moyes’ starting line-up, with the Spaniard – who Trevor Francis claims is “turning into a top player” – having already seen his importance start to waver with the heighted use of Said Benrahma and Manuel Lanzini.
Fornals had started West Ham’s opening 14 fixtures of the Premier League season but has since been benched twice and is without a goal or an assist since October, with his high-energy performances not always providing the desired results at the top of the pitch.
The Spaniard’s importance to the overall performance of Moyes’ side has arguably never been higher with his grit and determination, much like his passes, able to pull opposing sides apart.
Crystal Palace found that out the hard way on Tuesday night, when Fornals’ ball through to Michail Antonio left the Eagles at sixes and sevens before Tomas Soucek scored the Irons’ equaliser.
Yet Benrahma still emerged the brighter of the two West Ham stars at Selhurst Park, with the Algerian often looking like the Hammers’ most creative option whenever he dropped into the ever-increasing pockets of space between the Palace defenders and midfield.
Benrahma’s drive when on the ball was also on another level to that of Fornals and will now be expected to start week in, week out alongside Jarrod Bowen, even though the 25-year-old is still yet to score in claret and blue.
Bowen’s place is almost as secure as it can be with the 23-year-old the Iron’s second-best scorer with five goals from the most shots (37) taken in the side to date and with the second-most assists (3) to Aaron Cresswell (5).
And with West Ham now having signed Lingard on loan, no doubt without the intentions of the midfielder simply sitting on the bench, it leaves £67k-p/w Fornals the most at risk if he cannot come out shining at home to Liverpool on Sunday.
AND in other news, West Ham eye late loan for teen gem who “makes the game look easy”…