Stoke City sign Barcelona defender Marc Muniesa

Stoke have signed Spanish international under-21 defender Marc Muniesa from Barcelona on a free transfer.

Muniesa, 21, was part of the squad that won the European Under-21 Championship in June, and joins on a four-year deal.

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

"I'm very excited about moving to England and will do everything I can to help the club," said the defender.

Stoke's opening five league fixtures

  • 17 August: Liverpool (away)
  • 24 August: Crystal Palace (home)
  • 31 August: West Ham (away)
  • 14 September: Manchester City (home)
  • 21 September: Arsenal (away)

Hughes' links with Barcelona, where he spent a season as player in the late 1980s, helped alert Stoke to the possibility of signing Muniesa.

Muniesa added: "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 Championship ended, but I can't wait to get started for Stoke. I would start tomorrow if the club asked me to."

Muniesa made his La Liga debut with Barca as a 17-year-old and was an unused substitute for the Champions League final success over Manchester United in 2009.

The 21-year-old, who can operate at left-back or in the heart of defence, was more recently a fixture in the Barcelona B team, although Stoke still had to fend off interest for Muniesa in Spain before completing the deal.