Man United may be close to agreeing a deal for Ivan Perisic, so where might he fit into Jose Mourinho's plans?
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United is beginning to take shape as Ivan Perisic’s move from Inter Milan now looks inevitable amid suggestions that the two clubs are close to agreeing a transfer fee.
The Italians originally wanted £50m for the Croatian with United’s opening offer at £35m, but after being locked in talks since June, The Independent revealed on Monday there has now been a breakthrough in negotiations, with the fee likely to be £48m.
Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku have already arrived for £31m and £75m respectively, but Perisic could end up being Mourinho’s most important signing of the summer.
Perisic is hard-working, powerful and versatile, allowing him to be an option to United in a number of attacking areas and giving Mourinho the freedom to use him in a number of different roles.
It was no secret last season that Mourinho was desperate for more service for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the box, so much so that Ashley Young became a regular at the end of the season again, and, even though the Swede has left the club, Lukaku will reap the benefits of Perisic.
The 28-year-old thrives on crossing. In Serie A it has become something of a trademark of his to go on the outside and drill and cross into the box, just begging to be attacked. And he does it relentlessly. The Perisic-Lukaku combination will be a lethal one this season.
Don’t let his flamboyant personality fool you into thinking he only runs in one direction, either. His hard-working nature will give Mourinho the kind of running he demanded from Anthony Martial (below) last season, and from Eden Hazard in his final season at Chelsea.
Yes, Perisic’s strength is going on the outside with his left foot, but there is a touch of the Arjen Robben about him too, with the way he can cut inside from the right and unleash a top-corner belter.
During the European Championships last summer for Croatia, Perisic often took up residence on the right of the front three and was an immense counter-attacking option, something which United themselves were famous for under Sir Alex Ferguson, and the type of football which so many fans would dearly love to return to Old Trafford.
Playing from the right would act as the perfect foil in games where Lukaku can’t find the space to operate, with the former Everton man dragging defenders out of position to give Perisic the room to cut inside and shoot.
Given the No.10s at Mourinho’s disposal already in Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, it is unlikely Perisic will be given too much time to operate in that position, but he is more than capable of doing so.
He would provide a different option in that position as would be more of a second striker who runs at the back four from deep, rather than one who threads intricate passes through to those around him.
Mourinho has hinted at the need to bring in a second striker after allowing Wayne Rooney to return to Everton and Perisic could be the man to fill the void and offer a more dynamic No 10.
Perisic’s fondness for hard work and going outside on his left means he will almost certainly start his United career on the left of a trio alongside Lukaku and either Mkhitaryan or Marcus Rashford, but don’t be surprised if he drifts to the right in games to have a go at the left-back and cut inside on his wicked left foot. His pace, coupled with Rashford’s, will make United a counter-attacking force once again.