By Pete O’Rourke

West Ham are ready to stretch to a £30million bid for Villarreal star Pablo Fornals, Football Insider understands.

The Hammers are working on a deal to sign the attacking midfielder, 23, and have stepped up negotiations with the Spanish club in the last 48 hours.

A West Ham source has told Football Insider that further discussions today could be crunch time in the club’s attempts to agree a free with Villarreal for one of their prize assets.

The London club have offered over £20million for Fornals and are ready to increase their offer to the £30million mark in what would represent the second highest fee they have ever paid after the Felipe Anderson deal last summer.

Director of football Mario Husillos is leading the negotiations to sign a player he knows well from his time at Malaga, who used to also be managed by Manuel Pellegrini.

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Fornals has been capped twice by Spain and was a key player for Villarreal in the recently-completed season, scoring five goals and supplying six assists from 50 matches in all competitions.

He has a contract at the La Liga club, who reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League last season, until 2022.

Manuel Pellegrini is eager to add Fornals to his squad as he targets technically gifted players who can fit into the fast-paced attacking style he is trying to implement at the London Stadium.

In other West Ham news, the club have rejected an approach from Premier League giants for 29-year-old.