Meet Pablo Fornals: Málaga’s heir to Santi Cazorla wanted by Arsenal

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The Spanish attacking midfielder is seen as a potentially long-term successor to Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla, writes Sam May.

Fornals, 21, has impressed this season, scoring four goals and making two assists. Born in Castellón de la Plana, he joined Málaga’s youth academy in 2012, aged 16. The highly rated midfielder made his La Liga debut in September of that year against giants Real Madrid and later scored a brace, away in a 2-2 draw against Valencia in December.

Last season, Formals made his Spanish under-21 debut in a 1-0 win over Norway and then called up to the first-team by Vicente del Bosque for an international friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Arsène Wenger has sounded out the highly rated midfielder as he seeks a replacement for 32-year-old Cazorla, who also came to the Gunners from Málaga.

Like his fellow countryman, Formals plays with his head up inspiring forward play. It is not just about creativity but his control. He opens defences with the quality of his passing and he gives a technical security that allows him to escape when under pressure. His eye for goal means he is capable of shooting from anywhere.

With Arsène Wenger’s reputation for finding young talented players from abroad, the midfielder could be the next in-line to step out at the Emirates Stadium next season. Formals contract expires in the summer of 2019, but has a buyout clause of £8.5 million, meaning the North London club, could swoop to secure the services of the talented star.

Whether he will opt for a move away from the La Rosaleda is unclear, with the player himself previously stating: “Home grown players can fulfill their dreams at Málaga”, suggesting a move may not come anytime soon. The same could have been said of Cazorla, but Wenger got his man then, and may get his heir in the summer.

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