Mitchell Hall > West Ham attacker Pablo Fornals has recently been confirmed to have switched from his original 18 to the number 8 for the upcoming season, this being made possible by the departure of the incumbent Felipe Anderson to Lazio.
The switch to a first 11 number may be seen as something of a statement from both the player and the club, suggesting Fornals will have a persistent and key role to play in the upcoming campaign. This comes after Fornals sealed last seasons spectacular run with a brace (and a memorable celebration regarding the recently announced pregnancy of his wife) against Southampton. Fans and player alike will be keeping an eye on Fornals as we enter the new season, hoping for a continuation of that game’s form.
Fornals has been keeping sharp over the break through his involvement with the Spanish euros squad, being brought along as a reserve in the event of an injury to the primary group. Upon his return he has expressed his excitement towards the upcoming season, stating “I want to be with my teammates, I want to be [on] the pitch,” a sentiment the likes of which have helped Fornals develop a significant fanbase amongst fans alongside his incredible work ethic on the pitch.
The departure of Jesse Lingard leaves options for attackers slightly thinner, and with Yarmolenko potentially being used as a back up for Antonio up front this list continues to shrink, seemingly guaranteeing that there will be many games for the Spaniard in the next year and a lot of time for him to make a difference. The interest surrounding a deal for Matheus Pereira could put starting places back in contention, however given the apparent pecking order presented last year it is most likely Benrahma who will be most concerned for his minutes. All players of course will get their chance however, as the congestion brought in by Europa league competition will provide opportunities for players and youngsters, leaving the potential for an incredible breakout season alive for many players.
Fornals’ number change reflects a certain level of ambition, a statement that suggests he is ready to make his mark here and is committed to forge a new legacy starting from now. His performances thus far in claret and blue have been reliable and impressive, however this campaign feels like one Pablo is truly excited and ready for. His involvement in the upcoming friendly against Atalanta may be his first true test of the season but it seems to be one that he is itching for. The Premier league and European stage is set; perhaps PF8 has a chance to become genuinely iconic amongst the Hammers fans.