In Focus: Perisic is ready-made to Spur on Conte's revolution
Ivan Perisic has reunited with former boss Antonio Conte — and the duo will be targeting more success together at Tottenham.
The former Inter Milan star won the Scudetto in 2020-21 under the Italian tactician, having picked up two other league titles and a Champions League across his long career.
And Spurs supporters will be hoping that the 33-year-old can bring that winning mentality to North London.
Ahead of Croatia’s Nations League clash with France tonight, we take a look at how Perisic will fit in at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
For most of his career, Perisic was a left winger.
That is until he met Conte, who insisted on converting him into a left wing-back — loaning the veteran out for a season until he agreed to the switch.
Speaking last year, the 52-year-old coach explained his management of Perisic’s situation and analysed the player’s qualities.
He said: "We sent Perisic to Bayern [Munich] because he was not prepared to do the defending work I had asked for. He returned with a different mentality.
"I asked him the same things as last season, but he showed that he has extraordinary characteristics and needs to believe in himself more.
"The moment he started doing that, he started to play. He can be even more decisive.
"When I came to Inter Milan in the summer of 2019, my initial idea was that Perisic was an offensive defender because I know he has the characteristics [to do] this.
"The coach can have all kinds of ideas, but he needs the players’ willingness to cooperate with his hard work.
"Perisic is an excellent player with outstanding physical strength. He is good at beating [his man]. He has the ability to play one-on-one. I need Perisic like this."
One of the skills that makes Perisic a good fit for the role of left wing-back is his ability with both feet.
As a winger, it gave him unpredictability — enabling him to go down the line on his left foot, rather than only cutting in on his favoured right side.
In the last year, however, he has been asked to use his weaker foot far more frequently and has done so an astonishing 42% of the time.
Arguably Perisic’s greatest qualities are his creative ones, as he demonstrated in Serie A last season.
He notched seven assists, but it is the Split native’s underlying numbers that are most impressive.
In the Italian top flight, only Inter team-mate Nicolo Barella bettered his open play expected assists tally of 6.57 — and Perisic ranked third in the division for big chances created (14).
He also ranked inside the league’s top 10 players for total crosses delivered (150), completing an impressive 37 of those.
Despite his conversion to a deeper role, Perisic remains a player determined to get on the scoresheet.
The Croatia international netted eight times in Serie A from just 4.84 expected goals, demonstrating a clinical touch when presented with opportunities.
His scoring record is no accident, however.
Perisic frequently got into the penalty area, taking 146 touches in the opposition box. That was enough to place him 18th in the division — no mean feat for a wing-back.
Conte would not be trusting Perisic at wing-back if he shirked his defensive duties in the pursuit of goals and assists.
His eventual willingness to do the dirty work off the ball won the Italian coach over in Milan — and the whole team benefited from it.
In Serie A last season, Perisic made 47 interceptions, won possession back in the attacking third 20 times and won a commendable 55 aerial duels.
Conte will be hoping that blend of grit and creativity will help him at Tottenham in the same way it did at Inter.