Pablo Fornals has been a glimmer of hope in a rather disappointing Premier League season for West Ham. A little bit. Kinda.
The Spaniard has featured in all but two of the club's Premier League games this term, and started 12 of the Hammers' 21. However, he hit form over the festive period, became a mainstay in the final month of Pellegrini's reign, and seems to have impressed new boss David Moyes.
After such a slow start – 14 league games without a goal or assist from midfield – he has hit the form that he was displaying before his switch to England. One goal and three assists in his past six games in the league has been enough to show what Fornals is about, and the sheer technical quality that he possesses.
But his technical ability will not be the only quality he brings to the London Stadium as they head into the second half of the season. He has played a fair number of games on both the left and right-wing, and a similar amount in his preferred position – attacking midfield.
However this doesn't appear to have had much of an impact on his numbers, averaging 34.8 passes/90 out wide and 35.8 passes/90 when playing through the middle. His accuracy steps up a touch through the centre, but that's as much of a by-product of playing in the centre of the pitch with teammates in close than anything else.
During Villarreal's Europa League run in the 2018/19 season, Fornals was able to showcase his true abilities, scoring three goals from attacking midfield. However, playing just three full games in this position in 12 starts has kept him from developing continuity with his partners. With just one assist from midfield, and his position changing each week, it has been difficult for the Spaniard to get going.
His key passing stats have taken a hit too, standing at just 0.7 per game – a number that leaves him around 125th in the league among qualifying players. For an attacking midfielder, these stats should, and will, be higher over time. This is also not entirely down to the Spaniard, but the players around him too. However, just 0.6 dribbles per game makes you wonder what he brought to the Hammers while he was finding his feet.
The potential is there, the performances are beginning to come, but he'll have to be carefully managed by David Moyes if he's to hit the heights.
Source : 90min