Croatia international Ivan Perisic has completed a move from Inter Milan to Tottenham Hotspur, signing a two-year deal with the London side and reuniting with Antonio Conte
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Ivan Perisic is finally a Premier League player, signing a two year deal with Tottenham Hotspur, but the Croatian international could very easily have joined Manchester United before Spurs came calling.
The 33-year-old has signed a two-year contract with the London side, reuniting him with manager Antonio Conte. Conte was Inter manager when they ended their league title drought in 2020-21, with Perisic featuring in more than three quarters of the Nerazzurri’s league games.
“When I got in touch with the coach and sporting director I told them I really wanted to come to the Premier League, since 2009 when I started to play professional football in Belgium,” Perisic told club media after agreeing terms with Spurs. However, he could very easily have started his Premier League journey as a Manchester United player.
Perisic had been with Inter since 2015, but it was not all plain sailing. He spent a season on loan at Bayern Munich in 2019-20, winning the Champions League with the Bundesliga giants, but even before that he was linked with a move to Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho, then in charge at Old Trafford, was an admirer of Perisic. The Portuguese coach made contact over a potential switch, however – as Perisic himself explained in 2019 – the pieces did not all come together.
“How close was I going there? Very close, ”the former Borussia Dortmund man told The Athletic. “It was an amazing thing for me when Jose called me.
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When drawn on the reasons for the move falling through, however, Perisic kept his cards close to his chest. And by the time he moved to Bayern, Mourinho’s time at United had come to an end.
“It was difficult to say no to him. In fact, I really, really wanted to join him and play for United,” he continued. “It was a dream of mine to play in all the big leagues. But it did not happen. It was painful for me. But I do not want to go into the details. I only found out myself the real reasons two years later. ”
In the same interview, Perisic compared Spurs’ achievements to those of his national side. He played against the London side for Bayern in the Champions League group stage in 2019-20, just a year after reaching the World Cup final in Croatia colors, and saw some parallels.
“Spurs remind me of us,” he said. “They are so close as a team, and they too went to a big final for the first time last season when no one thought it possible,” the veteran continued.
“I remember that 90 per cent of people thought England would beat us in Russia. They were better for the first 50 minutes but then we smashed them.
“We controlled the game and had many chances. I’d say it was the most amazing moment in Croatian football history, especially for me, celebrating with friends and family in Moscow. And it’s not over yet. The national team can win big things “I believe.”
While Perisic ended his season at Bayern with a Champions League winner’s medal, coming off the bench in the final and playing 20 minutes of the 7-2 group stage win in north London, his time in Bavaria was short-lived. Conte saw him as part of his plans at the San Siro, and it worked out perfectly, with Inter claiming the Scudetto for the first time since Mourinho’s time in charge.
“It’s a privilege to work with a coach like this,” Perisic said of Conte. We did well at Inter, we won the league after 10 or 11 years. It was a perfect year and I’m really happy to see him again.
“He’s living football, every minute, every hour, every day. Even when he’s sleeping he’s thinking about football. I like his character and I know we’re going to do a great job here.”