It’s not often that a free transfer is exciting but Tottenham Hotspur appear to have struck gold with the arrival of Ivan Perisic this summer.
The Croatian veteran, 33, was one of the first names through the door as manager Antonio Conte finally got to shape his own squad at Hotspur Way, he joined alongside former Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster as two bargain signings in the off-season.
As his contract was up at the San Siro, the north London outfit did not have to pay a penny in terms of a transfer fee, though – whilst unofficial – there was probably some sort of signing-on bonus or fee, meaning sporting director Fabio Paratici and chairman Daniel Levy snagged him for peanuts.
It also represented a change in policy as the club have rarely signed players on the wrong side of 30 but at the age of 33, the Croatia international has plenty to offer and we’ve already seen plenty of glimpses of his ambidextrous nature, set-piece precision and relentless work rate.
Indeed, Perisic has already provided four assists from his nine appearances in a Lilywhites shirt across both the Premier League and Champions League, in which just six of those have been starts, as per Transfermarkt.
That makes him the most creative outlet at Conte’s disposal with January addition Dejan Kulusevski tailing behind on three assists.
Is Perisic the signing of the summer?
It makes it even more impressive when you consider the fact that nine other players have managed more minutes than the former Bayern Munich man this campaign, perhaps a sign of the Italian managing his workload.
Even former Arsenal foe Paul Merson has been left in awe by Perisic.
“I’m a huge fan of Ivan Perisic, he’s a top player who works as hard as anybody else on the pitch,” he told Sportskeeda.
“For every young kid who wants to be a professional footballer – watch this player and see how he makes things happen on the pitch. He sets the tone with his work ethic and professionalism and will turn out to be a great signing for Tottenham.”
Also capable of playing on the other flank and in a more advanced role, the vastly-experienced 33-year-old could continue to prove to be the biggest difference-maker in this Spurs squad.
According to CIES Football Observatory, who assess the transfer value of professional footballers on a scientific basis, Perisic is valued at around £18m, so when you combine the fact that Tottenham did not pay a penny for his signature with his impressive start to life in N17, then the club have surely struck gold with the £178k-per-week dynamo.
He is certainly living up to the once-dubbed “monster” tag by journalist Oliver Young-Myles. Age clearly isn’t everything in football.
AND in other news, Alasdair Gold drops Ben Davies update…