New Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has already signed two defenders, creating a log jam along the back line that could potentially make it harder for U.S. international Geoff Cameron to find playing time at the Britannia.
Or, maybe not. Read on … because Hughes has a lot of sorting out ahead.
Cameron was thought to be moving into Stoke City as a center back last summer, which is where he was playing for the United States at the time. But the rangy former Houston Dynamo became more or less an automatic choice at right back last year for Tony Pulis, who often used center backs along the outside in his doctrine of defend, defend and defend some more.
So the Stoke City arrival of Dutch international Erik Pieters on Tuesday confirmed something about Hughes’ approach. Clearly, he wants more technically adept men along the outside, where fullbacks will apparently be asked to do more than nominal attacking. While Pieters can play centrally, he seems to be the left back Hughes circled as a summer signing priority. Pieters, who has 17 full caps for the Netherlands, comes from PSV Eindhoven.
Later on Tuesday, Stoke added 21-year-old Spaniard Marc Muniesa, who comes over from Barcelona. Muniesa made his first appearance at the Nou Camp at age 17 but moves over on a free transfer.
A member of the Spanish side that just captured the Under-21 European Championship, Muniesa looks set to play centrally in the back for Stoke. So where does that leave Cameron?
Perhaps not as bad as it looks. First, Cameron has shown remarkable versatility, able to play left or right along the back line. (No, he didn’t look great at right back against Belgium. But you’ve seen Belgium, right? That team is stacked. Beside, Cameron spent a season at right back against all the good Premier League sides … so there’s that.)
And then we saw Cameron work quite nimbly as a defensive midfielder for Jurgen Klinsmann in those World Cup qualifiers last month. So, along with the fact that Muniesa can also play in a holding midfield role, Hughes has plenty of moving pieces to work with.