Tottenham new signing Ivan Perisic admits Arsenal had chance to wreck Spurs transfer

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New Tottenham signing Ivan Perisic has opened up on anxiously watching the club’s final few Premier League fixtures of last season to see if they qualified for the Champions League. Spurs pipped north London rivals Arsenal to fourth space thanks to an excellent end to the campaign, but the Gunners could have ruined Perisic’s move earlier in May. 

A 3-0 victory over Arsenal propelled Antonio Conte’s side into fourth and they won their remaining two games to remain in the Champions League places. The experienced Perisic, who has arrived from Inter Milan on a two-year deal, might not have signed had Spurs not finished in the top four. 

Perisic hinted that the North London Derby success – sealed thanks to goals by Harry Kane and Son Heung-min – was a ‘big’ moment in the campaign. “I was waiting during the last two or three games, I was watching,” the Croatian revealed. 

“The Arsenal game was a big step for the club to get into the Champions League. It was also good for me because I want to play in the best games and do a great job in the Champions League and in the Premier League.”

Perisic marks Conte’s first foray into the summer transfer window. The versatile 33-year-old is also the third player to arrive from Italy since Conte’s appointment in November last year. 

Dejan Kulusevski – who is expected to have his loan made permanent this summer – and Rodrigo Bentancur both signed from Juventus. Perisic is excited to reunite with Conte, having played under the 52-year-old at Inter. 

“When I spoke to the coach and the sporting director, I told them that I really wanted to come here and play in the Premier League. Ever since 2009 when I started to play professional football in Belgium, this is the moment [I realise that dream] and I can’t wait,” he continued. 

“It’s a privilege to work with a coach like this. We worked together at Inter and did very well, winning the league after 10 or 11 years. It was a really perfect year. He’s living football in every minute. Even when he’s sleeping, he’s thinking about football. I like his character and I know we’re going to do a great job here.”

Perisic scored eight goals and provided a further seven assists in 35 Serie A appearances for Inter across the 2021-22 campaign. He played 254 times for the club in total after joining from Wolfsburg in 2015. A loan at Bayern Munich in 2020-21 split up his time at the San Siro. 

Spurs have moved quickly to sign the left-sided player on a free transfer to inject some experience into Conte’s squad. The North Londoners are expected to be one of England’s biggest spenders ahead of next term.

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