Manchester United are trying to complete a deal for Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic, according to Sky sources, with the Croatia international eager to push through the move to Old Trafford.
Inter hope to keep hold of the 28-year-old, but it is thought United are getting closer to meeting his £48m valuation.
So what is it about him that has attracted the interest of Jose Mourinho? And are there any potential drawbacks?
Perisic has had a varied career which has already taken him through five different European countries. He left his native Croatia for French side Sochaux as a teenager, which was followed by a move to Club Brugge, where he won the Belgium league’s player of the year award in 2010/11.
He duly earned a transfer to Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund, and went on to play for Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg before moving to Italian giants Inter in 2015. Despite all the upheaval, Perisic has impressed in every country he has played in. His track record for adapting to unfamiliar surroundings suggests he could comfortably manage the transition to the Premier League.
Perisic is an attacking all-rounder whose biggest strength is his blistering pace. His speed in transition would be valuable to Mourinho, who frequently sets his side up to counter attack, and he would also provide greater effectiveness in the final third for a side who desperately need to improve their scoring record.
Perisic is most comfortable playing on the left flank, but he started his career as a striker and still possesses natural scoring instincts. The 28-year-old loves to cut inside, and the stats show a real knack for getting into dangerous positions. His average of 2.1 penalty box shots per 90 minutes last season was higher than any other non-striker in Serie A.
His combined total of 11 goals and eight assists was his highest since making the step up to a top European league in 2011. It was also nearly twice as high as any United player except for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport were describing Perisic as “indispensable” to Inter as recently as a few months ago. Mourinho would be getting a player at the peak of his powers.
Perisic’s physical stature makes him a good fit for the Premier League, and at 6ft 1in, he also ticks a box for Mourinho in terms of height. The Portuguese likes his teams to overpower their opponents, and United’s recent transfer activity highlights just how much he favours the kind of aerial prowess Perisic can offer.
Mourinho demands tenacity and defensive work-rate from his wide players as well as attacking efficiency. He will have noted how Perisic developed those traits alongside his countryman Ivica Olic, a striker known for being a tireless workhorse, both in the national team and at Wolfsburg.
Perisic was once criticised by Klopp for complaining about a lack of playing opportunities at Dortmund, but these days he is a team player committed to working hard for his manager. In that sense, it is easy to see how he would fit in under Mourinho.
There is always an element of uncertainty about how a newcomer will adjust to the Premier League, and the price-tag is certainly high for a player who will turn 29 midway through the upcoming season. Liverpool, by way of comparison, paid just £34m to sign the 25-year-old Mohamed Salah from Inter’s Serie A rivals Roma.
Perisic’s age means his re-sale value is limited, and there is less room for development than you might get with a younger player. Will he be able to sustain his pace as he heads into his 30s? It provides food for thought for Mourinho, but right now it’s fair to say the positives outweigh the negatives.Euro Soccer Bonus
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