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Ivan Perisic to Arsenal: What would he bring to Unai Emery's squad?
The Croatia international is a January target for Arsenal
Last Updated: 29/01/19 9:51am
Ivan Perisic has handed in a transfer request at Inter Milan amid interest from Arsenal, but would the winger be a smart signing? What would he bring to the Emirates? And how would he fit into Unai Emery's team?
Arsenal's preference to sign Perisic on loan rather than on a permanent deal makes sense when you consider his age. The Croatia international turns 30 on Saturday, meaning he is primarily viewed as a short-term fix rather than a long-term solution, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's impact at the Emirates shows the upside of signing players in their prime.
Like Aubameyang, Perisic would be new to the Premier League, but having already played in five different European countries from Croatia, France and Belgium to Germany and Italy, he has developed an impressive track record for adapting to new surroundings. His career history suggests he could come in and make an immediate impact at Arsenal.
His injury history is encouraging, too. Arsenal have been decimated by injuries under Emery, with Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck all ruled out for the season, but Perisic has a clean bill of health. According to Transfermarkt, he has only missed one Serie A game out of 135 due to injury since joining Inter from Wolfsburg in 2015.
Width and versatility
Perisic would bring some pace and width to a squad which badly lacks natural wide players. His favoured position is on the left, but, being two-footed, he is capable of playing in multiple attacking positions and in various systems, something he has demonstrated under four different managers in just four years at Inter Milan.
Perisic's versatility is attractive to Arsenal - just as it was to Manchester United under Jose Mourinho, who also admired his physicality. "Perisic is the kind of winger that is different to the others," said Mourinho during the World Cup. "Normally you look at wingers and they are just fast and creative. But he is also physical, very physical, fantastic in the air."
Mourinho also talked up Perisic's "tactical" ability. In other words, his willingness to balance his offensive work with defensive discipline. That was evident during the World Cup, when, as well as scoring three goals, Perisic always provided effective cover for his full-back, helping to ensure that Croatia only conceded one goal from open play on their run to the final.
Perisic's teamwork fits with Emery's philosophy, but it's his goal threat which will appeal to the Arsenal manager most.
The 29-year-old, who started his career as an out-and-out striker, has reached double figures for goals in Serie A in each of his last two seasons with Inter. At international level, meanwhile, he boasts an impressive record of 22 goals in 74 games - including his instinctive strike in Croatia's World Cup semi-final win over England.
Perisic is a creator, too. As well as his combined total of 22 Serie A goals in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons, there were 17 assists. Since the start of the 2015/16 season, he ranks 11th in Serie A for chances created (194) and 10th for shots (337) underlining just how dangerous he can be.
How does he compare?
Perisic's form has dipped this season - there have only been three goals and two assists in 18 Serie A appearances since his outstanding World Cup campaign with Croatia - but his underlying numbers are still impressive when compared to Arsenal's current wide players.
Ivan Perisic vs Arsenal's current wide players (2018/19)
|Player||Successful dribbles/90||Chances created/90||Penalty box shots/90|
Perisic is not a prolific dribbler - he is, rather, a direct runner who thrives on the counter-attack - but he has created 1.7 chances per 90 minutes this season and he shoots far more - and from more dangerous areas - than Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and even Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has also been used on the flanks by Emery this season.
For context, Perisic's average of 2.4 penalty box shots per 90 minutes this season is only bettered by five Premier League players - among them Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. The Croat's average is higher than Harry Kane's (2.3 per 90 minutes), Mohamed Salah's (2.0 per 90 minutes) or Eden Hazard's (1.9 per 90 minutes)
How would he fit in?
Emery has used a variety of different formations this season, some based on three at the back and others on four, but Perisic could slot easily into any of them.
He could operate as a left or right-sided attacker in a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3, while he could even step into a No 10 or secondary striker role if Emery chooses to return to the diamond formation which proved so successful in the recent win over Chelsea.
How do you see him fitting in at the Emirates Stadium? Build your Arsenal XI with our team selector below.