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Talking Tactics

New signings: Perisic a perfect fit for Conte's Spurs

Adrian Clarke 26 Jun 2022
Ivan Perisic, Spurs

Adrian Clarke explains why Croat can be one of the Premier League's best wing-backs in 2022/23

Adrian Clarke analyses players who have changed clubs this summer and can make an impact in 2022/23.

Ivan Perisic (TOT)

Antonio Conte did not settle on a first-choice left wing-back for Tottenham Hotspur last season, switching between Sergio Reguilon, Ryan Sessegnon and Matt Doherty.

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All three did well in spells, but none of them cemented a position which is likely to be occupied by summer arrival Perisic in 2022/23.

The 33-year-old Croatia international worked with Conte at Inter Milan and, on the back of an impressive Serie A campaign, he should be an excellent fit down that wing.

Big-match player

In recent years, Perisic has proved himself to be a consistent performer who regularly raises his game for the big occasions.

He has scored 14 goals for Croatia at major tournaments, including one in the 2018 FIFA World Cup final.

He was also superb at the business end of Inter’s 2021/22 Serie A campaign.

He scored three goals and provided six assists in their last 10 league matches, while in the Coppa Italia final he netted twice in extra-time to secure a victory over Juventus.

Loves to cross

Conte’s teams always use the full width of the pitch, so Perisic will be viewed as a key addition.

Conte's Spurs team delivered the second-highest number of successful crosses from open play last season, behind only Liverpool, and Perisic’s arrival will significantly strengthen their quality in this area.

Despite making only six starts in last season’s UEFA Champions League (UCL), it was Perisic who produced the most crosses from open play in the competition.

Most open-play crosses in UCL
2021/22 Starts Crosses
Ivan Perisic 6 40
Trent Alexander-Arnold 9 38
Dusan Tadic 7 38
Kingsley Coman 8 36
Riyad Mahrez 11 29

Spurs fans can expect Perisic to speed down the left side before delivering dangerous crosses for Harry Kane to attack.

Seven of his nine assists in all competitions last term came from crosses whipped in from that side.

While he can produce quality from deeper areas, his trademark delivery is standing the ball up for team-mates who are arriving at the far post.

These balls are hard to stop because Perisic is two-footed and can produce quality on his right or left side. 

Set-piece threat

Spurs only scored eight goals from set-plays last season, with only Norwich City, Watford and Manchester United netting fewer.

The arrival of Perisic increases their goal threat enormously.

He usually occupies a position inside the box, attacking the cross.

Four of his 10 goals for Inter last season came from corners, with three of them being brilliant near-post headers.

Still going strong

He may be approaching his mid-thirties, but Perisic still has a strong enough engine to perform a demanding role as a wing-back.

He started 35 out of 38 league matches last season and still has the pace to beat full-backs on the outside.

Perisic's UCL stats 2021/22
  Perisic Inter rank
Starts 6 7th
Open-play crosses 40 1st
Dribbles completed 6 1st
Chances created 14 2nd
Shots 11 3rd
Touches in opp. box 33 3rd

His defending is adequate but not a core strength, meaning it is his attacking qualities that have attracted Spurs’ attention.

Domestically and in Europe, Perisic was among Inter’s most prominent attacking players in 2021/22.

He will regularly get into the final third and, once there, he has the talent to hurt opponents with a crisp strike or accurate final ball.

This is a short-term fix for Spurs that should instantly improve their starting XI.

See: Talking Tactics: New signings for 2022/23

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