Why Tottenham made their move for 33-year-old Ivan Perisic


After guiding Tottenham to a top-four finish, the hope among supporters was that the club would back Antonio Conte in the summer transfer window. Spurs have been in this position before, but failed to build on a successful campaign and the club were all the worse for it. It appears they have learned their lesson. 


Less than a day after the season had ended, Spurs announced an £150m capital increase as they seek to back Conte in the market. Conte had supposedly been considering his future at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium unless Spurs were prepared to invest accordingly this summer ahead of yet another important window. 


As expected, Spurs have been linked with a host of players with Conte and sporting director Fabio Paratici drawing up a shortlist of potential targets to improve the squad, with a centre-back, central midfielder, a new wing-back or two and a striker among those wanted by the Italian boss this summer. 


With a backup goalkeeper in the form of Fraser Forster set to join, he isn't the only experienced player that Spurs are close to signing. With a left wing-back also a priority in order to provide competition with Ryan Sessegnon for a starting spot, reports on Saturday suggest that they have won the race to sign Ivan Perisic. 


The experienced Croat is out of contract next month and while Inter had been keen to retain Perisic's services, the north London side appear to have won the race to land the 33-year-old. He wasn't the only player in his position linked with a move to Spurs this summer, with Filip Kostic another rumoured target for the club, and the Serb may yet remain on their radar, but it seems the immediate aim is for Perisic to rival Sessegnon for the left wing-back spot in the capital. 


So why did Spurs elect to move for Perisic ahead of other targets in the role? Well firstly Perisic is a player Conte is familiar with. Granted, he was sent on loan to Bayern Munich in Conte's first season at the Inter helm, but in 2020/21, the experienced winger started 20 of 38 league matches under the Italian as he and Ashley Young competed for a starting spot in Inter's title winning side. 



However, it wasn't until this season that Perisic nailed down a starting spot in the wing-back role with Simone Inzaghi at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza helm. 34 of his 35 starts came at left wing-back and he excelled in the position as he returned a WhoScored rating of 7.22, that enough to feature in the Serie A team of the season. From the position, he was directly involved in a total of 15 league goals, scoring eight, with a conversion rate of 18.2% the 12th best of the 132 players to manage 25 or more shots in Italy's top tier. For context, Mario Pasalic led this metric with 26.5%. 


With seven assists to his name, only Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella (both 12) registered more of all Inter players in 2021/22, while 1.8 key passes per 90 was the fourth most of those to play at least 1000 minutes for Inzaghi's side. What was also crucial, which perhaps swayed Spurs' decision to pursue the out of contract star, was that only Antonio Candreva (16) and Barella (15) created more clear-cut goalscoring opportunities than Perisic (14) in Serie A this season. 


By comparison, Spurs' four wing-backs created just 15 big chances between them this season, so it's clear that Conte wants to add additional creativity to this role, particularly when you consider that Harry Kane (19) finished first in the Premier League for this metric when he shoud be getting on the end of these opportunities rather than creating them for teammates. 


There also understandable concerns over signing a player who turns 34 in February. Perisic, though, registered 2844 minutes of Serie A action, his second best return in a league season, and the fourth most of all outfielders for the Nerazzurri. Age is clearly but a number for Perisic, who played so frequently in such a demanding position. In addition, Spurs have a history of signing experienced stars to aid the development of younger players in the same role having brought in Noureddine Naybet in 2004 and Edgar Davids in 2005 to benefit Ledley King and Michael Carrick, respectively. 


Spurs, therefore, will be hoping signing Perisic can have the same effect on Sessegnon, who having ended the campaign strongly, has the ideal platform to take his game to the next level and establish himself as a key man for Conte's side. And furthermore, there is no guarantee that Perisic would come in to be exclusively be a left wing-back; he is equally proficient with both his left and right foot, which boosts Conte's tactical flexibility. 


They have been linked with a move for Djed Spence to play on the right, but depending on the availability of potential targets this summer, Spurs may also elect to use Perisic from the right and then pursue their interest for a player to feature on the left, so Kostic may yet remain a target for the club. Having starred from left wing-back last season, there consensus is that Conte will do similar with Perisic, yet his impending arrival still gives Spurs options in the market. 


Supporters are eager to see Spurs start to spend the £150m at Conte's disposal, but in Perisic, they'll be landing a versatile winger who is well versed in the head coach's demands and an experienced option in a squad that needs to focus their efforts on landing tried and tested stars. That is joining for free is an added bonus as Spurs look to build upon a successful second half to the season with Conte in charge.

Why Tottenham made their move for 33-year-old Ivan Perisic