NEW West Ham defender Nayef Aguerd has admitted he contacted Pablo Fornals about joining the club before signing his contract.

The Moroccan knew the West Ham midfielder during a visit to La Liga side Malaga and they have been friends since.

Aguerd told West Ham TV: “I went to Málaga – he [Pablo] used to play there.

“I went in for a test. I was in Morocco so I went in only for tests, so I knew him from there in Malaga. We stayed in contact, and now he’s a good friend.

Echo: Nayef Aguerd, credit Javier Garcia / ShutterstockNayef Aguerd, credit Javier Garcia / Shutterstock

“When we started to talk about the interest from West Ham, I sent Pablo a message wanting to know about how the Club is, what the teammates are like… He had some influence and was able to answer some questions for me.

“I also spoke to [Wolverhampton Wanderers defender] Roman Saïss, the captain of our Morocco national team, a lot about coming here and playing in the Premier League.

“When I told him about West Ham’s interest, and asked him about the league, he told me: ‘You need to sign there. You will love the country, you will love London, and the football is the best in the world’. I also spoke to [fellow Morocco internationals] Imran Louza and Adam Masina at Watford.”

The 26-year-old, who has joined the Hammers from French Ligue 1 club Rennes on a five-year contract, is a self-confessed admirer of the Premier League – a competition to which his attributes appear perfectly suited.

The Morocco international centre-back – who has 25 senior caps for his country to his name – arrives with two impressive seasons with Rennes under his belt, having enhanced the reputation he established at FUS Rabat and Dijon.

The London Stadium is set to be expanded to 62,000 seats and Aguerd is looking forward to playing in front of his new fans.

He said: “It’s perfect for me. I would say it’s a positive pressure.

“It’s the same in the national team. When we play games, there’s 60,000 people at the game. They push us to win – and you need that.

“The pressure is for the other team, when we’re playing at home. It’s going to be good.”

Aguerd will be playing with a new number on his back after joining West Ham. The defender has usually worn the number six, but due to the number being retired at the Hammers, he has switched to the number 27.

However he is happy with the switch as he is fulfilling a promise to his best friend.

He said: “This is the first time I’ve worn No27.

“I promised my best friend in Morocco that, during my career, I would put his favourite number on my shirt.

“I told him that, one day in my career, I would put this number on my shirt. I didn’t know when, but I would do it one day. It’s his favourite number because he loves [former Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina midfielder] Javier Pastore, who wears the No27.

“I told him that one day in my career I would do it.”