West Ham's £24m signing Fornals is a striker's dream, says Ashton

The former Hammer thinks the new arrival can provide the spark the team have been missing after impressing for Villarreal and Spain

New West Ham signing Pablo Fornals will be a dream for the club’s strikers to link up with, according to the club’s former forward Dean Ashton.

Fornals, 23, has Hammers fans excited for the new season after two impressive years with Villarreal which have seen him already make his debut for the Spain senior side.

Ashton, who scored 19 goals for West Ham, thinks the hype is justified following the new man’s £24 million ($30m) move from Villarreal earlier this month.

“Fornals is a player that is going to excite West Ham fans,” Ashton told the club’s official website.

“Nowadays I think a lot of teams are looking more at younger prospects that can improve – like Fornals – and he’s already shown with the Spain Under-21s, like with that winning goal he scored against Belgium, that he has real quality.

“Maybe at times last season that was something the team was slightly lacking in midfield; that bit of creativity to break certain teams down, but he can add that for sure.

“Fornals would absolutely be a striker’s dream to play with.”

Fornals notched five goals and six assists in all competitions in his last season at Villarreal, playing a key role for the club in Europe as well as in La Liga.

His creative spark and eye-catching dribbling have inevitably seen him draw comparisons with former team-mate Santi Cazorla, himself much loved in London after his time with Arsenal.

With Cazorla back in Spain and David Silva confirming he will leave Manchester City at the end of this season, Fornals will be hoping he can take up the mantle left by the Premier League’s trailblazing Spanish playmakers.

But, despite the excitement around his signing, Ashton does not think it will be easy for him to break into the first team with the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko providing competition for places in attacking midfield.

“It’s going to be difficult for him to force his way straight in because of the quality that is already there,” he said.

“We’ve seen in previous seasons though that injuries play their part.

“Yarmolenko missing most of last season was a real blow and Lanzini only really got himself back and fully fit towards the end of the season.

“I think Fornals will look at it, as every new signing should do, as a real opportunity to stake a claim early on.”

Fornals whet the appetite for his first season in the Premier League with a goal in Spain Under-21s’ 5-0 win over Poland on Saturday night.

He will be hoping to feature against France on Thursday, in the semi-finals of the European Under-21 Championship in Italy.

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