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'Elite' Rodriguez can flourish at Stoke, says Hughes

(Reuters) - Manager Mark Hughes believes Stoke City have secured an elite player in forward Jese Rodriguez, who joined the team on a season-long loan from Paris St Germain on Wednesday, and says the 24-year-old can excel at the Premier League club.

Former Real Madrid player Rodriguez won multiple titles with the Spanish club before sustaining a serious knee injury in 2014. He failed to re-establish himself after the long injury lay-off and joined PSG in 2016.

After an underwhelming start to last season, Rodriguez spent the second half on loan at Spain's Las Palmas.

"I think we can give him a platform here to really enjoy himself. Everyone is excited to see him play," Hughes told reporters on Friday.

"He's an elite player, a top-level player and you don't get too many opportunities to bring players like him to the club. When you do you should enjoy it."

Rodriguez was Stoke's sixth recruit in the current transfer window and Hughes says his team are stronger than last season.

"It's always the case in transfer windows that you want to be stronger at the end than the start" Hughes said.

"If you look at the players we let go I would argue that we've only let go of one who would be a regular starter, the rest would be squad players.

"But we've replaced them with starters. If you compare and contrast with last season I believe we are much stronger."

Hughes also confirmed that forward Julien NGoy has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a thigh injury.

(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru)

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