Malaga midfielder Pablo Fornals has joined Villareal after a summer which saw him linked heavily with Arsenal.

The 21-year-old Spaniard had an impressive season for Malaga and was reportedly attracting interest from Arsenal. Unfortunately, we’ve now missed out on the player – if we were even interested in the first place.

According to Thursday’s edition of the Costa del Sol News [hardcopy], Fornals has completed a move to La Liga side Villareal.

The move went ahead after Fornals paid the £10.7m release clause in his contract.

Release clauses work a little differently in Spain than they do elsewhere. In Spain, a release clause can only be triggered if the player deposits the required amount with Spain’s national governing body, RFEF. The money is often provided by the buying club.

£10.7m is something of a bargain price for such a talented midfielder. Malaga owner Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani took to Twitter to explain that the club did all they could to keep Fornals.

“Whoever says I did not sign the player’s contract is lying,” Al-Thani said, as reported by Costa del Sol News.

“We made two offers to the player with a big salary. But the player as his agent did not accept it.”

Arsenal were linked with the Spaniard throughout last season and this summer, with reports claiming a deal could be done quickly due to his low release clause.

Fornals had a strong season, scoring six goals in 31 appearances for a young and energetic Malaga team and earning his first cap for Spain. Some viewed him as the natural successor to Santi Cazorla.

He will now feature regularly for a Villareal side expected to challenge La Liga’s top four next season. He could even face Arsenal in this season’s Europa League.

There’s a chance that Arsenal will continue to track his development and resurrect their interest at a later time.

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News and feature writer with a BA in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of East London. Long-time Arsenal fan also following Sevilla and local side Southend United. You can find me on Twitter @jeinchy29 talking about Arsenal and the issues affecting the English game,