Mark Hughes has completed the signing of Barcelona defender Marc Muniesa on a free transfer. The 21 year old Spaniard is Hughes’ and Stokes second signing of the summer, he joins Dutch defender Erik Pieters who signed from PSV Eindhoven.
Muniesa was a member of the impressive Spanish squad who won the European Under-21 Championships in June.
His delight at joining the Potters was clear, saying; “It wasn’t a big decision for me to make. I came to England yesterday to meet the people at the club and look around the training ground, which is very impressive.”
He added; “I’m very excited about moving to England to play for Stoke City and will do everything I can to help the club. My season only finished a fortnight ago when the European Championships ended but I can’t wait to get started for Stoke. I would start tomorrow if the club asked me to.”
The centre back spent his youth career at Barcelona and rose through the ranks, even appearing as a substitute in the 2009 Champions League Final against Manchester United. By 2011 the player had a €30million buyout clause built into his contract. And when he was promoted to the senior squad for the 2012-13 season it really looked like his star was on the rise.
But unfortunately, in the first pre-season game of that season, Muniesa tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and missed out on six months of football. On his return to fitness he struggled to break into the first team at Camp Nou, making only two appearances.
It was clear after this season that a move away was essential if the player wished to gain regular first team football and in time progress from underage level to senior level for the national team.
The potential though is there and Hughes is content with the signing, saying; “Marc has been well-schooled by Barca. Technically, he’s a very good player and I’ve no doubts he will be an excellent addition to our squad.”
“I know he’s very highly-regarded in Spain and was attracting interest from clubs in La Liga but he’s an ambitious young man and wants to test himself in English football.”
Hughes, who takes over from Tony Pulis at Stoke, will be under pressure to make an immediate impact with the club, having had a poor spell at QPR. And whilst not all Stoke supporters were thrilled at his appointment, signings like that of Muniesa, could be pivotal in his success, particularly if the player builds on his potential.