After having battled to help his Croatia side to the World Cup Final, Inter winger Ivan Perisic is about to take a well-deserved rest. His tally of three goals and one assist – including a simply stunning strike versus France on Sunday – saw him rise up as a real star man during this summer’s tournament, but there was at least one man who had admired him all along.
“Perisic is the kind of winger that is different to the others,” Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho told Russia Today after Croatia’s victory over England in the semi-final. “Normally you look at wingers and they are just fast and creative. But he is also physical, very physical. Fantastic in the air.
“So the way he wins that ball in the air [for Mandzukic’s winning goal] and puts the ball into that space is only possible if you are very, very physical and dominant over defenders. So he was amazing by going there and winning that ball in the air.”
Of course, it is no secret that Mourinho has long since coveted Perisic, a player who would work very well as an alternative to Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in supplying crosses from the left hand side to striker Romelu Lukaku.
The table below explains exactly why #MUFC boss Jose Mourinho is so keen on #CRO star Ivan Perisic. Brings something different to Martial & Rashford, a more direct and physical game, good in the air and plenty of crosses for Lukaku too. pic.twitter.com/P6MTd7FoHK— Chloe Beresford (@ChloeJBeresford) July 17, 2018
Indeed, the Croatian’s Inter team-mate Mauro Icardi has been the grateful beneficiary of some superb work down the wing in Serie A, the partnership the most prolific assist to goal scorer combination in the league in 2017/18.
The Argentine has netted no less than seven times after having been fed by Perisic, the latter having also scored 11 goals of his own in each of the last two consecutive campaigns. Such a record saw United go in for the winger last summer, only for the deal to ultimately fall through.
Following such an impressive performance in the World Cup, the value of this stock is set to rise even higher, and this time it will not only be the Red Devils who will be looking at a potential purchase before the window closes. Bookmaker Betway is offering 4/7 that Perisic remains at Inter, 7/4 that he does join his long-term admirer Mourinho at Manchester United, while football betting fans can get 25/1 on any of Liverpool, Paris Saint Germain or Real Madrid as potential destinations at Ladbrokes.
“Perisic is the only player who can be compared to Ronaldo from a physical point of view,” revealed current Coach Luciano Spalletti to a recent press conference. “He’s quick, strong and he can score more goals, even with his head. [Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic] gained more exposure at the World Cup and they’ll make themselves available to Inter.”
Despite the Inter boss’ claims, reports in Italy continue to claim that United are continuing to work towards a transfer, one that the former Wolfsburg man would surely not turn down given the chance. Sunday’s edition of Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport claims that Mourinho is determined to land his target, but also suggests that the offer of around £40 million submitted last summer will not nearly be enough.
The report states that Inter may be willing to accept out-of-favour Matteo Darmian as part-payment for Perisic, after interest from Juventus in the full-back quietened, potentially making this one of the best transfers to bet on after the World Cup.
Perisic renewed his contract until 2022 only last summer, becoming the club’s highest earner behind Mauro Icardi on €4.6 million per season, and for now at least, it seems as if he is willing to remain in Milan. “I’ve only thought about Croatia until now,” admitted the winger after the World Cup Final “Now I’ll go on holiday and then my season will start.”
“I hope to do good things. I’m a World Cup runner-up, but in order to win things, we need a lot of players,” added the Croatian international, giving a hint that he feels the squad is not yet up to the task. “We need the team [to pull together] and we need more this season because we’re playing in the Champions League.”
Of course, Europe’s most elite competition is a big draw for the World Cup finalist, and the team’s presence may allow Inter to hold onto their players more successfully as they enter the Champions League for the first time since 2010/11.
Financial Fair Play is also less of a consideration as the income generated by the club will significantly rise this term, but top football bookies seem to indicate that Mourinho will not rest until he finally gets his man.