Manuel Pellegrini and the West Ham coaches are fretting about whether Pablo Fornals can cope with the physicality of the Premier League, Football Insider understands.
The attacking midfielder, 23, has struggled to make an impact since becoming the club’s third-most expensive signing in the summer, behind Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson.
A West Ham source has told Football Insider that the staff are convinced the £24million recruit from Villarreal has the potential to be a big hit in the Premier League.
But they are concerned that he is getting “bullied” by opposition teams and may be too weak for English football.
The Hammers coaches believe Fornals needs to bulk up to cope with the speed and power of sides in a league that places greater physical demands on players than in his native Spain.
Fornals has made four starts among nine Premier League appearances for West Ham but has yet to register a goal or assist in 405 minutes of football.
His only goal for his new employers came in a 2-0 early season League Cup win against fourth-tier Newport County.
It is a far cry from Fornals’ impressive form last season for Villarreal, where his five goals and six assists persuaded West Ham to shell out a £24million fee for him.
Pellegrini’s public stance is that he is not worried about the new recruit but privately he knows he must work out how to get the best out of the Spaniard.