Tottenham are expected to be very active in the transfer window as they try to give Antonio Conte what he wants. Spurs are set to sign Ivan Perisic, who has arrived in England for a medical. The Croat has been linked with a move to the Premier League for a long time, but he now finally looks set to make it.
BBC Sport report that the 33-year-old is going to sign a two-year contract on a free transfer. It is a sensible move by the club, as Perisic has previously worked with Conte. He is a natural fit to play as the left wing-back and will be able to adapt quickly due to his existing relationship with the head coach.
Throughout his managerial career, Conte has had a preference of working with players that he already knows. It could be that Perisic isn’t the final player to arrive this summer with that existing relationship.
One of the benefits of signing Perisic is his versatility and experience. He is capable of playing in a number of roles, as he is capable of playing as a wing-back or an attacker on either side. Due to his age, it is likely that he is being signed to play as a wing-back, as this has been his most common position in recent seasons. However, he did still play as a forward on a number of occasions for Inter Milan during the previous campaign.
Conte will want his wing-backs to regularly contribute goals and assists. Perisic got eight goals and seven assists during the previous season for Inter. He is a very dangerous attacking force and he will offer an upgrade in that aspect on the current left wing-backs at Tottenham.
During the last year, Perisic is averaging 0.14 non-penalty expected goals (xG), 0.25 expected assists (xA) and 3.41 shot creating actions per ninety minutes. When compared to other full/wing backs, he ranks in the 99th, 99th and 95th percentiles respectively. It is unsurprising to see that he is a very active attacker considering his previous experience playing further up the pitch. His reading of the game is excellent as he is regularly able to receive the ball in the final third, with an average of 5.24 touches in the opposition penalty area. He again ranks in the 99th percentile for this metric.
In transition, Perisic is capable of playing forward passes to progress the ball, but he is most effective when carrying it forwards. The 33-year-old averages 4.03 progressive passes and 6.63 progressive carries per ninety minutes. This places him in the 66th and 87th percentiles respectively. He is less likely to play forward passes, as his role is to get forward to offer an attacking threat, so he is less involved in build-up play. However, he is willing to carry the ball, in particular when his team is counter attacking.
As a defender, there are some weaknesses in his game. That isn’t surprising as he isn’t a natural defender. He isn’t an active defender, but he has improved his intelligence in his own third. Perisic knows where he needs to be to cut passing lanes, while he is strong in the air. That will bode well for his transition to English football. He averages 1.72 successful aerial duels per ninety minutes.
Due to his coaching by Conte and experience as a wing-back, his defensive issues shouldn’t be a big worry for Tottenham.
This is a smart signing by Spurs, as they are getting a player that is a natural fit for Conte’s system. It shows their ambition to compete for major honours now. At the age of 33, this is a signing with a focus on short term success.