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Signing of Bojan Krkic signals Stoke's rise to prominence ahead of new Premier League season

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STOKE, England - There are two ways of looking at Spanish forward Bojan Krkic's decision to join Stoke from Barcelona.

It either shows the scale of a one-time wonderkid's decline, or is an indication of the rise to prominence of an unfashionable Premier League team that is making headway under manager Mark Hughes.

"Anyone who knows European football will be aware of him as a player," Hughes said, "and the fact that he sees his future at Stoke City is really exciting and an endorsement of the club itself. He's desperate to prove himself in the Premier League."

Krkic made his Barcelona debut in 2007 at a younger age than Lionel Messi — 17 years and 19 days, a Barca record — but failed to live up to his billing and has spent the past three seasons at Roma, AC Milan and Ajax.

He has impressed for Stoke in preseason and will look to help the team build on its best Premier League finish of ninth in Hughes' first season in charge after taking over from Tony Pulis.

Others to arrive are former Manchester United striker Mame Biram Diouf and experienced Premier League players Steve Sidwell and Phil Bardsley.

Hughes has managed to keep hold of his major assets, including goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and captain Ryan Shawcross.

Stoke only won three games away from home last season, a record Hughes wants to improve.

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In: Bojan Krkic (Barcelona), Dionatan Teixeira (Banska Bystrica), Mame Biram Diouf (Hannover), Phil Bardsley (Sunderland), Steve Sidwell (Fulham).

Out: Michael Kightly (Burnley), Matthew Etherington.

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