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Big Rumor: Pablo Fornals to Villarreal

A versatile young midfielder, for sure.

Malaga CF v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

A ‘bombazo’ of a rumor: MARCA is reporting that Pablo Fornals is going to pay his recission clause (€12m) and sign with Villarreal.

Fornals is a rising young star: a Spain U-21 international who has made his La Roja debut in a Spain friendly last summer, a player who was rumored several months ago to be interesting Arsenal as a replacement for the injured Santi Cazorla. Last year he was one of the few bright spots for Malaga (apart from the now departed Sandro).

It’s important to divide the MARCA story into two parts: the first one, which has the ring of truth, is that Fornals is willing to pay the recission clause (his agent is quoted as the source for that statement). If his recission clause is indeed only €12m, this is not surprising given today’s market and the failure of Malaga to invest in their squad this summer.

The second part is more tricky: “Marca has been able to learn that Villarreal is the team that is betting on him” (i.e. signing him).

Why it might be true:

No question Fornals at €12m is a bargain. He’s also almost a local boy, having grown up in Castellón (though that also means that growing up, Villarreal were a big rival as he came up through the youth ranks of the orellut). He is very versatile: more of an attacking midfielder than Rodri—think someone more like Manu Trigueros—he could also be used as Santi Cazorla and Cani were for us, notional wingers who in practice pinched into the middle of midfield.

Why it might not be true:

Mostly because if so, there must be another shoe to drop somewhere. If he’s coming, who is leaving? Castillejo? Sansone? Jona? Manu? Even if to some degree the opportunity to sign him has fallen into your lap, it’s hard to see us doing it unless there is clearly a plan to give him a starting role somewhere. Real Madrid does that sort of stuff—Villarreal does not.

Likelihood of it happening:

He’s clearly leaving Malaga. As a Villarreal fan wrote on twitter, I won’t believe it until I see him posing with Sr. Roig Negueroles, but here are a couple of things that support the idea. First, we have shown a willingness to make moves for players with other La Liga teams who are real bargains due to contract terms, even if it upsets their current club (Eric Bailly from Espanyol being the best example); second, we raided Malaga before, signing the two ‘Samus’ for €16m. Finally, it appears that Fornals may have deleted some tweets referring to Villarreal as the ‘village club’ (let’s be fair here, these were sent when he was 16 to 18). If that’s so, that would be pretty strong evidence he could be coming to Vila-real. We await developments.