Stoke City are delighted to announce the signing of highly-rated defender Marc Muniesa from Barcelona on a free transfer.

Muniesa, who was a member of the Spain squad that recently won the European Under-21 Championship, has signed a four-year contract.

He becomes manager Mark Hughes’ second new signing of the summer following the arrival of Dutch international Erik Pieters from PSV Eindhoven last week.

The 21-year-old said:

“I’m very excited about moving to England to play for Stoke City and will do everything I can to help the Club.

“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.

“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.”

Chief Executive Tony Scholes said:

“Marc has an excellent pedigree, as you would expect from someone who has come through the ranks at a club like Barcelona, and we’re delighted to have secured his signature.

“We were alerted to his availability and moved quickly to make him a Stoke City player. The whole process was greatly helped by Mark Hughes’ links with Barcelona and it’s clear to see he’s very excited by the challenge of making an impact in the Premier League with us.”

Hughes, who served Barcelona as a player himself in the 1980s, revealed:

“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.”

Muniesa, who can operate in the centre of defence or at left back, made his debut for Barcelona in La Liga as a 17-year-old and in the process became the second youngest player to make a first team appearance for the Catalan club.

He was named among the substitutes for the 2009 Champions League Final against Manchester United and has been a regular starter for Barcelona B, who play in the Second Division of Spanish football.

Muniesa, who is reported to have attracted interest from Chelsea in the past, has been capped five times by the Under-21s and has also represented his country at Under-16, 17 and 19 levels.

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