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Barcelona: Why Stoke Signing Defender Marc Muniesa Is a Stunning Transfer

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07:  Marc Muniesa of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Bayern 04 Leverkusen at Camp Nou on March 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 7-1.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images
Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJuly 3, 2013

Stoke City have continued their post-Tony Pulis evolution by bringing in yet another superb purchase on paper.

Far removed from the usual monotonous transfer policy of hulking, strong British men, Mark Hughes is turning the club's style and appearance on its head.

First, the signing of PSV Eindhoven defender Erik Pieters for £3.1 million was confirmed, enabling Potters fans to be able to state that there is a left-back on the roster after many years waiting.

Now, La Masia graduate Marc Muniesa has pledged his allegiance to the cause, signing a four-year deal at the Britannia after completing a free transfer.

He brings his passing background and experiences from playing with Barcelona to the windy Midlands, and Hughes will be hoping he settles quickly and sparks a revolution in the Stoke system.

By signing Pieters (who can play centre-back) and Muniesa (who can play left-back), Stoke have effectively given the strongest area of Pulis' team a face lift.

Between Rory Delap's release and the recruitment of ball-playing defenders, it appears Hughes has identified the defence as the main source of the club's problem.

The Potters have struggled to shake off the stigma that they're bullies on the field, lumping it and winning aerial tussles via strictly route one tactics.

Pulis' insistence of recruiting players with the physique of Steven N'Zonzi and Jonathan Walters hardly helped matters, but there was always a feeling the Potters could rely on their steely defence who drew no criticism.

Now, even if it sacrifices a little solidarity, it seems Stoke are going to try to keep the ball on the floor and work it through the lines from the back. Muniesa and Pieters will form a critical part of that, and against all odds, Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth will begin to fear for their jobs.

Cynics will look upon Hughes' random transfer activity and prematurely suggest he's "doing a Queens Park Rangers," but there are key differences in the way he's going about his work.

Bringing in cheaper foreign imports allows chairman Pete Coates to keep the wages down yet change the club's image.

It's a method Paul Lambert has used at Aston Villa, ridding himself of the Alex McLeish long-ball hangover and refreshing the roster with continentals.

It's a great start to the summer for Stoke and an encouraging transfer strategy from Hughes. Has he learnt from his mistakes at QPR or is this just what happens when he's given a strict budget?

 

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