Time for another update on Ivan Perisic, as we haven't written about him for a week. Let's hope we're not still writing about him come August - although the way this transfer saga is playing out, we could well be.
Essentially, the news this weekend is that there is no news. Since Tim wrote seven days ago about how Perisic's proposed transfer from Inter to Manchester United was being held up, due to the vast difference that existed between the two clubs' valuations of the player, nothing has really changed. The English club offered €40m for the 28 year-old at the start of June and have yet to increase their proposal since then, as they believe he is worth no more than that - according to the Independent, Inter's initial asking price of €50m is an asking price that they are 'absolutely not willing to meet', and so the Red Devils have asked the Nerazzurri to lower their demands.
However it seems that is not going to happen, as Inter continue to ask for a fee in the region of €50-55m to part company with the Croatian - in fact, they are not even willing to sit down behind a negotiating table until United reach that figure. According to calciomercato.com, the club reiterated to Perisic's agent Fali Ramadani on Friday that they have no interest in softening their position, as they believe they have 'an important player' on their books whom Luciano Spalletti would be keen to retain for the coming season. If one of the two clubs decides to concede some ground then this story should finish quickly, as Perisic has long since agreed personal terms with United, but at the moment there is little to suggest that either will.
How much do you think Perisic is really worth? Perhaps the video below, showing his best moments from the 2016-17 season, will help you to make up your mind.
The key to deciding which club wins this bout of financial arm wrestling may well lie in Inter's Financial Fair Play restrictions. Up until now, we've been pretty certain that we would have to sell Perisic in order to respect the agreements that were established with UEFA a couple of years back, as I discussed back on 3 June:
Inter need to recoup €30m before 30 June 2017 so that they can break even in accordance with agreements they've made with UEFA, and only so much of that can come from sponsorship avenues.
To avoid receiving a corporate slap on the wrist, we need to sell one of our better players for a profit before the end of the month, and it seems that Ivan Perisic has been identified as that very player.
It has been suggested that Inter could raise the funds they need by 30 June through several smaller sales, as opposed to one big one; according to Mediaset, for instance, they could feasibly afford to keep Perisic if they got rid of three between Marcelo Brozovic, Jeison Murillo, Andrea Ranocchia and Stevan Jovetic.
With none of those players seeming to be close to the exit door, Tim wrote last Saturday about how Inter's bargaining hand in the Perisic deal was becoming smaller and smaller:
Inter could keep Perisic, and sell some combination of Marcelo Brozovic, Jeison Murillo, Andrea Ranoccia, Gary Medel, Ever Banega, and Stevan Jovetic to cross that €30m threshold, but time is running out, and it seems no real progress has been made in that regard.
Spending €105m on a single player aside, Manchester United are not dumb. They certainly recognize the precarious position Inter are in. Each day that goes by without a sale elsewhere in the squad, Inter will feel increased pressure to let Perisic go for less than €50m. It’s in the best interest of Manchester United to drag this transfer saga out as deep into late June they can.
However with less than a week left until the FFP deadline, there is still a chance that Inter can take the alternative route, and therefore stand firm on the €55m asking price for Perisic. For instance, Walter Sabatini confirmed to Spanish radio station ABC on Friday that Inter and Sevilla are in talks over a potential double transfer involving Banega and Jovetic, with both keen to return to Andalusia. Together the two of them could bring us around €20m, according to Sky Sport - although I'm not certain Inter would accept that combined fee, given what Sabatini has said about the pair in the last fortnight - while the other €10m could come from Gianluca Caprari, whom Inter signed from Pescara for €5m last summer.
Caprari is set to move to Sampdoria in a deal that would see 22 year-old Ukrainian centre-back Milan Skriniar move in the other direction, as a way of lowering the Blucerchiati's very steep asking price that lies in the region of €30m, which should be finalized sometime next week (along with the signing of Borja Valero from Fiorentina). Depending on how much Caprari is thought to value within that deal (pretty much every source is reporting a different figure at the moment), his sale - along those of Banega and Jovetic - could be enough to secure €30m before 30 June without Perisic.
NB: It's worth remembering that Inter supposedly need to bring in €30m of 'profit' before 30 June, not just €30m full stop. My limited understanding of finance tells me that this makes things harder.
At the moment this remains speculation, but what I'm trying to say is that maybe Inter don't need to sell Perisic at all costs before 30 June. Looking at how the club has been moving in the last week or so, I no longer feel certain of that personally; maybe their bluff will be called in a few days and Ivan will be a Manchester United player this time next week, but I'm starting to have one or two doubts.
While the newspapers have been saying for over a month that we need to sell Perisic before July to avoid punishments from UEFA, as far as I'm aware that's never actually been confirmed by anybody at the club; lots of people have spoken about the necessity to sell to respect the FFP agreements, but no one has given exact figures or mentioned specific players.
For a club that's supposed to be scrabbling around for cash, Inter are acting with a surprising amount of authority this close to 30 June. Last week Sabatini slammed the door in Sevilla's face when they submitted an offer for Jovetic that was thought to be unacceptable, while on Friday he dismissed their reported €9m offer for Banega as 'not very much'. At the same time, there's no indication that the club are willing to budge on the initial asking price for Perisic - if they are about to do that, not a single source in Italy or England is reporting as such. Have Suning found another way of recouping the money they need that none of us know about? One has to at least wonder, because if they really do need to bring in a €30m profit from player sales in the next week then they're holding their nerve remarkably well. At the end of the day, the only people who know exactly what our balance books look like are those at the club. Maybe none of us know what we're talking about - it wouldn't be the first time.
I would still say Perisic is highly likely to move to United despite this. Spalletti has been clear that he only wants fully committed players in his squad next season, and it's difficult to imagine Ivan skipping into training every morning after having the chance to play Champions League matches for Manchester United taken away from him. He may be an exemplary professional in that regard, but I doubt it. However I'm detecting a reasonably clear message from Inter as we edge towards the end of the month: either you pay us what we want for our player, or you're not signing him. Financial Fair Play or no Financial Fair Play.
In the end I think Perisic will move on, but it looks like we're going to be waiting a bit longer for confirmation than anybody had anticipated. Over the next six days a whole lot of things should become much clearer.