Steve Clarke has hailed Diego Lugano as a true leader after the Uruguayan skipper finally completed his move to West Bromwich Albion – but warned him he faces a battle to force a way into his side.
The club announced the 32-year-old as a free-transfer capture and handed him the no 14 shirt after he passed a medical.
The transfer from Paris Saint-Germain is still subject to international clearance but Clarke is delighted with the swoop.
“I’m delighted to welcome Diego,” he said. “He’s an experienced centre-half who will increase competition in that area of the team.
“This is a tough league. You need as many good players in your squad as you can get – and Diego is undoubtedly one of those. Like some of the others we have here, he is a captain of his country and is a leader.
“He has a real hunger and ambition to play and succeed in the Barclays Premier League and he will hopefully get a platform here to show everyone what he can do. However, he knows he’s got a fight on his hands to get into the team.
“Over the past couple of seasons, Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson have been an established Premier League pairing with stiff competition from Gabriel Tamas and young Craig Dawson, who we believe will be a good centre-half for this club in years to come.”
Lugano arrives at The Hawthorns with a wealth of international, Champions League and top-flight experience from across the globe.
He spent last season on loan at a Malaga side which finished sixth in La Liga under new Manchester City box Manuel Pellegrini and reached the Champions League quarter-finals.
He has also captained Uruguay on 77 occasions – more than any other player – and is the second highest capped player in his country’s history, with only ex-Manchester United striker Diego Forlan ahead of him.
Lugano, who boasts nine international goals, won his 86th cap in Uruguay’s Confederations Cup third/fourth place play-off with Italy in Brazil in June.
In addition, he has lifted the 2011 Copa America trophy – after Uruguay beat Paraguay 3-0 in the final – and helped them reach the 2010 World Cup semi-finals.
According to the BBC, Lugano wrote on Twitter: "I am very pleased to join West Bromwich Albion for the next two years.
"I'm doing something that has been missing in my career, playing in the Premier League, without doubt the most beautiful and competitive league in the world.
"The challenge is to match what West Bromwich achieved last season and trying to go a step further to reach European competitions."
West Brom Sporting & Technical Director (designate), Richard Garlick, added: “We identified central defence as one of the areas within the squad in which we wanted to increase competition this summer. Diego is a player we have been aware of for the past couple of years and when we discovered he wouldn’t be re-joining Malaga, we made our move. We have very much done our homework on him. His CV speaks for itself and we’ve also received glowing reports about him as a person.
“But the good thing is that Diego has also done his homework on us. I understand he’s spoken to the likes of Gus Poyet and Luis Suarez about the club and Steve, who they have both worked with. On the back of this, Diego very much wanted to join us.
“He had other attractive offers but we’re delighted he has agreed to join us. His game is very much suited for the Premier League.”
Lugano started his career in his native city with Club Atletico de Canelones. Shortly after turning 18, he joined the youth set-up at Montevideo giants Nacional.
He was involved in the side that won back-to-back championships in 2000 and 2001 but went on loan to Plaza Colonia, where he was made club captain, and Brazilian outfit Sao Paulo the following year, going on to win the FIFA Club World Championship and Copa Libertadores in 2005.
The Brazilian 2006 Serie A title followed and he was voted the top defender in the country for the second successive season.
Later that year, he made the switch to Turkish side Fenerbahce, where he spent five trophy-laden years, scoring an impressive 29 times. He helped them win two Super Lig titles, two Turkish Super Cups, one Turkish Cup and also reach the 2007/08 Champions League quarter-finals before moving to PSG.