Free agent signing Ivan Perisic got his first start for Tottenham Hotspur against Wolverhampton at the weekend and did not disappoint, helping Spurs earn all three points.
Brought in this past summer as a free agent, fresh from a stint with Inter Milan, Ivan Perisic was signed to add stability to the left-wing-back position. On Saturday against the Wanderers, Perisic gave fans a glimpse of what he can do for the team in his first start of the season. Although his entire bag of tricks was not yet on display, Perisic showed enough to prove that there is still a lot left in the 33-year-old gas tank.
Perisic adds both glitz and graft to the Tottenham team
From an offensive perspective, I think we all thought Perisic could contribute. Through two matches, we now know, with two assists, through a corner and a flick-on from a second corner.
The first assist demonstrated the free kick prowess that Perisic possesses and that Spurs desperately need. The second assist was one example of Ivan’s strong aerial game. The flick to Harry Kane was just one of a team-high four headers that Perisic won on Saturday, demonstrating another dimension to his game.
Beyond the heading and the assist, Perisic showed his uncanny ability to get a cross-off under almost any circumstance. While his crosses were not ultimately turned into goals, there is no doubt Kane and others will continue to let the unexpected cross go unrewarded.
Like his crossing, Perisic’s dribbling was something to behold. Perisic did not get many opportunities to pick up a head of steam and attack with the ball at his feet; however, in the 61st minute, the Croatian glided past the first defender as his legs stepped over the ball without losing stride.
Ultimately, that attacking run from Perisic earned the game-winning corner kick, where Kane scored a historic goal for himself, the club, and the league.
Everything was not perfect for Perisic; his slide-rule pass attempt to Pierre Hojbjerg probably should have been a shot, and then maybe we would be talking about a goal as well. However, that unselfish play is good and contagious.
Besides winning some headers, Perisic also led the team in recoveries against the Wolves, showing he is not afraid to put a shift in defensively either.
Perisic is the kind of professional Tottenham needs
One of the reasons Perisic was signed was his experience with coach Antonio Conte and his experience as a winner. That experience was evident everywhere on the pitch in the win over Wolverhampton.
Whether it was calling off Conte himself on a short corner he did not think was on or strategizing with Kane between the action to make sure the two were on the same page, Perisic is a student of the game who is more alert to the footballing opportunities at hand than he is concerned with the emotions of the game.
It will take time for him to be a true leader in the team, but he is a leader with his words and actions on the pitch, which is exactly the kind of player Tottenham needed.