Pablo Fornals is yet to meet expectations since he arrived at West Ham from Villarreal in a deal worth £24million in the summer transfer window.
Sky Sports’ La Liga expert Guillem Balague was impressed that the Hammers managed to snatch Fornals, 23, from Villarreal and even claimed that the “genius” playmaker was in a similar mould of midfielder that you would expect to see at Barcelona.
West Ham supporters on Twitter were thrilled with what they saw from Fornals in the summer too as he stood out for Spain’s Under-21s at the European Championships in Italy.
At the time, it seemed as though Manuel Pellegrini had played a blinder by signing Fornals but we are now eight matches into the Premier League and the buzz about the Spanish maestro has practically disappeared and concerns are creeping in about his ability to perform in England’s top-flight.
Sky Sports pundit Danny Mills has moved to allay concerns about Fornals and has suggested that his performances will improve once he is played more by Pellegrini.
“It’s always good to see players with quality on the ball. You’ve got to get them the ball as often as possible and then go from there,” Mills told Football Insider.
“The more they play, the better they get, the more they get used to the pace of the Premier League and everything else. A lot of these players will be a work in progress but when they do get on the ball they’re exciting to watch.”
Mills has a point.
Fornals has earned just three Premier League starts in eight matches, only completed 90 minutes on one occasion and has been used off the bench by Pellegrini on five occasions.
The former Villarreal midfielder also played every minute of the two Carabao Cup fixtures against Newport County and Oxford United, in which he scored his first goal in English football against the former.
One big issue about the game-time that Fornals has been getting is that Pellegrini appears to be hindering him by not playing him in his preferred central position.
According to transfermarkt, Fornals has played four times on either the left or right flank in the Premier League while his three starts have seen him play in a more central role.
It’s a lack of continuity that could make even the most adaptable of player struggle to settle down and put together a string of good performances. Fornals simply isn’t getting any kind of consistency to his game because there’s no consistency about how Pellegrini uses him.
Fornals has made five key passes in the league this season and four of them have come when he has played a central role [WhoScored].
In his last appearance in a central midfield role, Fornals completed 100 per cent of his passes in the 2-2 draw against Bournemouth and he actually managed to complete the only two crosses he’s made this season.
Pellegrini needs to help Fornals find a rhythm.
It’s all well and good giving the £60,000-a-week ace [Football Insider] game-time, but what matters is more that the West Ham manager is utilising him in a way that benefits him and the team.
At the moment, West Ham fans are still waiting to see all the fuss about in the summer and a change of approach could be what is needed to get the most out of the Spaniard.