Player to watch this season: Marc Muniesa at Stoke City

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A growing disdain amongst the fans and board for Tony Pulis’ brand of route one football eventually led to the removal of the Welshman at Stoke City.

And while many will have been equally disapproving of the appointment of Mark Hughes, the signing of Barcelona youngster Marc Muniesa will have convinced many that the ex-QPR boss is looking to shake things up at the Britannia.

Twenty-one-year-old Muniesa, who operates predominantly as a centre-half but can also play at left-back, made his debut for the Catalans at the age of 17 before helping Barcelona B to win promotion to the Segunda División in 2009–10.

He was also named as a substitute for the 2009 Champions League Final against Manchester United and also picked up a winners medal at this year’s Euro Under-21 Championship.

Typical of the sort of defender that graduates from La Masia, Muniesa is comfortable on the ball and is technically sound.

Potters’ fans could be concerned that his youth and relatively slight frame could leave him vulnerable to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League. However, he is a fiery centre-back, as he displayed when getting sent off on his debut against Osasuna, in the mould of a Puyol rather than a Pique and there is an urgency and intensity about his game.

Such was the regard he was held with at Blaugrana that they drew a €30m release clause in to his contract extension in 2011 and he was named in the main squad for the 2012-13 season, but a serious injury in pre-season scuppered his chances.

Whether Muniesa will be able to depose the established back two of Robert Huth and club-captain Ryan Shawcross remains to be seen, but he is certainly an exciting prospect.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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