With the deal signed, sealed and delivered, Antonio Conte can start planning for life with Ivan Perisic, but where is the Croatian international best suited in Tottenham’s starting 11?
Tottenham got Perisic on a free transfer, arguably the best free transfer the club has made since 2000, with the 33-year-old signing a two-year contract that will keep him at the club through the 2024 season.
The question on everyone’s mind is where will Conte play the versatile left footer.
Perisic is clearly too good to be sitting on the bench. Don’t let his age fool you. The Croatian is still playing some of the best football he ever has and was an influential figure in Inter Milan’s recent 2021 Scudetto-winning campaign.
Conte led Inter to the title, employing Perisic as the team’s go-to left wingback. The factor alone is a key contributing factor in Conte landing the wily veteran. Of course there a bundle of other reasons — his winning character, mental fortitude, Premier League readiness, versatility and winning pedigree — that Conte had Perisic in his crosshairs.
Should He Play Left Wingback?
Perisic is certainly confident playing in the left wingback role. He accomplished the task with aplomb when Conte shifted him into the role. Ryan Sessegnon has come a long way in a short period under Conte’s leadership, but the Englishman, who is prone to niggling injuries, isn’t quite ready to take the first-choice helm on a consistent basis.
Of course Spurs might purchase Filip Kostic to provide even more depth, but the Croatian is more than happy to commandeer the wingback role on a part-time basis.
How About Left or Right Attacking Mid?
The Croatian’s most natural position is in a more advanced role, the areas of the pitch Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski patrol. It’s unlikely the Croatian will unseat Kulu, who has been superb since arriving from Juventus. And there’s no chance he takes the Golden Boot winner’s spot in the first team.
However, it’s going to be a long, hopefully fruitful season on numerous fronts and both Sonny and Kulu are going to need intermittent rest. That’s when Perisic will likely come into the team in his preferred, more advanced role.
Don’t Forget Right Wingback
While the right flank is most certainly Perisic’s off wing, many players have enjoyed unlimited success darting inside on their stronger foot.
Perisic wouldn’t be able to swing left-footed crosses in so seamlessly, but would offer another dimension entirely from the right wingback position.
Of course he has Matthew Doherty to contend with, as the Irishman was a man reborn before going down with a late-season injury.
How About a Mix of All the above?
The most likely outcome is for Conte to employ Perisic wherever the team needs him most, meaning a rotation of all aforementioned positions. Perisic should play most games, as long as he’s fit and healthy enough to do so, but might have to play in numerous positions to obtain the ideal amount of playing time.
It’s a perfect solution for Conte, who has been dreaming of a versatile left-footed player of Perisic’s indomitable stature since landing at Tottenham in November last year.