The World Cup, even now, is hardly a distant memory. That is why the changing mood that surrounds Ivan Perisic is both strange and surprising. One of Inter’s most consistent players in recent years looked more athletic and focused than ever during his country’s exploits in Russia. However, as Christmas approaches in Milan, he may soon be looking for a new challenge. The 29-year-old has been accused of poor performances in the media but is this the case? Are the Milanese about to let a player depart, who can still offer so much in an important season for the Nerazzurri?
This week, Tuttosport were quick to report that Perisic could leave Inter for around €50m. This seemed a strange stance considering the club had fought hard to keep him away from Manchester United in the last two summers. Now the Turin-based paper was reporting that both Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid are ready to negotiate over the Croat as he apparently not been as dynamic so far this campaign.
While fans may point to his exclusion in the starting eleven for the team’s recent win against Udinese, it is clear that Luciano Spalletti still has faith in him. After all, this term in Serie A, he has made 15 appearances, scoring twice and assisting twice. If he continues at this rate then he may not be far off his 2015/16 tally where he played 34 times, scoring seven and assisting six times. A sign that whilst perhaps he isn’t sparking as in 2016/17 (36 games, 11 goals, six assists) or his 2017/18, (37 games, 11 goals, nine assists) he is still performing well.
One also has to consider that more players this season have been tasked with helping share the goals around and take the burden of Mauro Icardi, in recent years only Perisic has done this with any success. Also, he has come off the back of a World Cup campaign that will have exhausted him as it did many players who reached the latter stages. Perisic is important off the field as well. Interviewing him at Appiano Gentile back in 2015, he even then had a clear idea of what it meant to be part of Inter. He was clear to me about the project and was also knowledgeable about the history of the club and he also referenced that every player should try to achieve the professionalism shown by Javier Zanetti over the years.
The Croatian, since that interview, has grown in physical and mental stature. From day one he admitted he would address the then coach, Roberto Mancini’s instruction to improve his defensive game. He did that, whilst not a complete utilitarian, he does have that “the team comes first” attitude shown by the aforementioned Zanetti. The face he’s industrious and self-sacrificing may be the reason that his 11 goals have not been 20, it may be why he has never reached the heights Davor Suker thought he may, when he once said he thought he would be as good as Arjen Robben.
In that interview Suker gave to Gazzetta Dello Sport some years back he said: He's incredible; he has strength, talent and a knack of scoring. In modern football, players who can make the difference are extremely valuable. He confronts the opponent one-on-one, then beats him. He's got technical quality that gives a tremendous advantage to his team. Perisic can dribble past three players in one motion." He wasn’t wrong.
So, what is the problem with Perisic? Is it that he is jaded and therefore he is putting in numbers at the lower end of his average? Is it that the fan base is frustrated by this and the fact that Spalletti trusts him so much? If the ‘mister’ does trust him, that also says a lot and whilst he maybe being outshone by the direct Keita Balde or the much-improved Matteo Politano this term, perhaps Inter should be careful what they wish for. It is hard to find an argument to say, even if he is not starting, that Perisic will not be an extremely influential player this term. The money maybe attractive but few in the black and blue shirt have worn it with such dignity in recent seasons.