Ivan Perisic caught the eye for Tottenham on Saturday with a strong showing against Roma in Israel
Ivan Perisic impressed in the final third for Tottenham in the 1-0 defeat against Roma (Image: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
Ivan Perisic gave Tottenham fans a tantalising glimpse of what he can bring to Antonio Conte’s team in 2022/23 with an eye-catching performance in the 1-0 defeat against Roma on Saturday evening. Not featuring on the tour of South Korea as he worked his way back to fitness from the calf injury he sustained in his final Inter Milan appearance, his Spurs debut came in their next game away at Rangers.
Only getting 30 minutes at Ibrox as he replaced Ryan Sessegnon at left wing-back, the Croat took his opportunity with both hands and impressed with his play in the final third. Keen to build on it, Conte selected his former Inter man from the off against Roma in Israel.
Once again, Perisic demonstrated what he is all about going forward as he popped up all over the place and caused problems for the Giallorossi. Always advanced and combining well with his teammates, including Son Heung-min as he teed him up with a header, the 33-year-old tried his luck from distance a number of times.
Seeing one effort from distance fly over and another flash wide of the far post in the first half, he then saw another attempt go over not long after the break. The player did also highlight the defensive side of his game with a good block to stop a Roma break just after the hour mark, but one blip was his role in Roger Ibanez’s winner as the defender ran off him from the corner to powerfully head home.
All in all it was a very strong full debut for the Lilywhites, with Conte waxing lyrical about him after the game. The head coach did also claim that “he’s not the Ivan Perisic I know” as he builds his way back to full fitness, meaning that there is still a lot more to come from the Croatian.
“He’s an important player because he’s really good. He moves forward, good in one v ones, and then he can use both feet and he was before a winger which is why he’s good in one v one,” explained the Italian after the defeat in Israel. “But he has to continue to work because at this moment he’s not the Ivan Perisic I know. That is normal though, but I’m happy because he reduced the time to recover from his injury.
“It was the same for Matthew, for Doherty. I hope to see him like last season and now he’s working and he’s struggling. We need to have patience. We need to give time for these players to be really fit.
“It will be very important for us, but then we have Sessegnon, that is a guarantee, also Emerson is good. There is the new player Spence. He is a guy who has to work a lot, because to go into Tottenham it’s different in the Premier League with Tottenham but in the end I’m happy.
“I’m happy because we’ve finished the pre-season and we want to start the season and have important games to get three points.”
Getting so much joy from the wing-back positions at previous clubs Chelsea and Inter Milan, unfortunately, that was not the case in his first campaign as Spurs boss. Always going to be extremely tricky to make Spurs tick right from the off due to a lack of quality time on the training pitch, Conte also had to try and get players such as Emerson Royal and Sergio Reguilon up to speed with the position very quickly as they had never operated as wing-backs.
That was evident to see during the games as their play in the final third was lacking. With Matt Doherty and Sessegnon already at the club who have lots of experience playing as wing-backs, Spurs have thankfully added some more quality to both flanks this summer with Djed Spence and Perisic signing on the dotted line.
The arrival of the latter undoubtedly gives the team the quality down the left they lacked, which was clear to see against Roma as he was a constant threat and always in promising positions. It’s perhaps not a surprise to see that he contributed with ten goals and nine assists for Inter in 2021/22 given his positioning and penchant for shooting from distance.
The best bit about the Perisic deal is that it was a no-brainer for Conte, Fabio Paratici and the club as he was available on a free transfer following the expiration of his Inter deal. Time will tell if Perisic will be a huge success at Tottenham but the early signs are promising.
He could be some player for Spurs once he fully recovers from injury and becomes the Ivan Perisic Conte knows.