Inter Milan would be wise to not sell Ivan Perisic

The ESPN FC crew examine Mauro Icardi’s resume and discuss how he could complement Arsenal’s attack.

Ivan Perisic’s return to training is both good and bad news for Inter Milan. The optimists among the faithful are frothing at the mouth at the thought of the Croatian international’s marauding, high-speed runs, plus his innate ability to position himself in the box and find the back of net, all of which earned him rave reviews at Euro 2016.

The (far more numerous) pessimists, however, can’t escape the sneaky suspicion that a return to Riscone will inevitably be accompanied by transfer rumours, ambiguous declarations of faith, and all the typical headlines one reads in the late summer papers.

Are Inter about to lose the man who took over the team in 2016? The one who scored a diving header against Palermo and played a blinder against Roma? So far, Perisic has done nothing more than hint at a possible departure, with agent Tonci Martic stating a month ago that “[Perisic] doesn’t want to leave…he wants to win a title with the Nerazzurri shirt.”

Contrast that to Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic’s previous representative, Miroslav Bicanic, who told Sky in May that he thought that Inter would sell his client simply because Inter director of sport Piero Ausilio had taken a trip to London.

It is only right for fans to wonder whether selling Perisic would be the right idea, turning a €16 million acquisition into a potential €35-40m sale — the price last quoted in media reports when Liverpool popped their head round the door back in spring.

The problem is that Inter would have taken a player through the “growing pain” stage, only for someone else to enjoy the best of him — something that was covered in last week’s piece on Mauro Icardi, another potential exiting player. At 27, Perisic is at the peak of his powers, and Inter would have to start all over.

Remember, the Croatian was head and shoulders above the rest of the attacking midfield in the second half of the season, while the likes of Adem Ljajic, Stefan Jovetic and Brozovic either faded or were too inconsistent.

It says a lot that manager Roberto Mancini eventually settled on Perisic, too, in light of his penchant for constant tinkering. While other solutions were benched, the former Wolfsburg star mostly kept his place in the team from February onwards.

Ivan Perisic Ivan Perisic was a mainstay in Inter’s starting XI the second half of last season.

Come to think of it, Inter’s recovery neatly coincided with their 3-0 second leg win over Juventus in the Coppa Italia in March, in which Perisic’s switch to the left in the second half resulted in him scoring the Nerazzurri’s second. The former Borussia Dortmund man later provoked the penalty that allowed Brozovic to take the game to extra time. From that moment onwards, Perisic went on a tear, scoring five more Serie A goals and adding three assists.

The winger also seems to have developed quite the rapport with Icardi. “When I get a good cross in,” Perisic said after providing the game-winning assist to his captain against Empoli in January,, I tell Mauro to always aim for the near post, because the ball will be headed there.” Lo and behold, the dynamic duo did it again a month later against Verona. The former Wolfsburg man ended up providing the Argentine with five total assists (out of a total of 16 league goals), and even got two back.

The Croatian does have room for improvement: some feel that he’s a bit of a one-trick pony, especially with the feint to the inside that typically leads to a quick dash to the left. That said; a quick study of Perisic’s masterful Euro 2016 performance against Turkey saw him benefit immensely from the presence of a skilled playmaker, who would often quickly launch him down the wing. The 27-year-old will surely make the most of a cerebral player like Ever Banega.

Though selling Perisic now may make sense to some, there is little way of knowing whether anyone would really spend €35-40 million on him, or whether a lower sum would be enough to match the reported €50 million in profits Erick Thohir said Inter would need to respect the Financial Fair Play guidelines. Wouldn’t it be better to accept the reduced Europa League squad of 21 players, a typical FFP punishment?

The bottom line is that Perisic managed seven goals and six assists despite only really starring in the second half of the season. For a club like Inter that desperately needs Champions League qualification to regain its reputation — among the squad and potential signings if nothing else — it may well be worth turning down €30-40 million now. After all, Roma earned €45m for failing to get out of the group stage of the 2014-15 edition.

It is one thing to quibble over potential investments, quite another to do away with one that has yet to fully bear fruit.

Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.

The original version of this story which was published by ESPN can be viewed here.

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