Stoke sign Kostas Stafylidis on loan as new era begins with defensive reinforcements

Kostas Stafylidis has joined Stoke City on loan from German Bundesliga side FC Augsburg until the end of the season, becoming Paul Lambert's first signing as manager.

Stafylidis, 24, is the second full-back to arrive at Stoke this January, after Moritz Bauer joined permanently last week.

While Bauer made a promisingly energetic debut on the right side of Stoke's defence away to Manchester United on Monday night, Stafylidis will provide competition and cover for longstanding left-back Erik Pieters.

Stafylidis has already been capped 21 times for Greece and previously spent the 2014-15 season on loan at Fulham in the Championship, making 38 league appearances.

Embed from Getty Images

Distance shooter

The player, who has a penchant for long-range shots, scored four times in 27 appearances for Augsburg in the Bundesliga last season. He has fallen out of favour, though, since current Augsburg manager Manuel Baum was appointed in December 2016, appearing just twice from the bench in 2017-18.

The Greek will be looking to revive the form that first brought him to prominence at PAOK Salonika, and prompted a move to Bayer Leverkusen while still only 19 years old in the summer of 2013.

Stafylidis joins Stoke with his new side rooted in the relegation zone, 18th in the Premier League and a point adrift of safety.

Although Stoke attempted to strengthen their defensive options in the summer with the acquisition of Burno Martins Indi, Kevin Wimmer and Kurt Zouma, former manager Mark Hughes presided over an alarmingly generous defence in the first half of the current season.

Embed from Getty Images

Horrendous record

Stoke have conceded 50 goals already this campaign, taking heavy beatings at Manchester City (7-2), Tottenham (5-1), as well as home and away against Chelsea (4-0 and 5-0 respectively).

The introduction of Bauer at right-back could not prevent Stoke succumbing to a 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford, but Stoke's overall performance was much more positive than in previous away defeats at the grounds of the league's 'big clubs'.

It remains unclear whether Pieters will be fit in time for Saturday's clash against Huddersfield Town, so Stafylidis may have the chance to slot straight into the starting line-up.

The left-back spot has most recently been occupied by 18-year-old Josh Tymon – a summer signing from Hull City – and Wimmer, neither of whom have made sufficient impression to make the position their own.