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If Ivan Perisic were to leave, then what? Three potential replacements

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Why replacing the Croatian may not be as difficult as you think

Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

I know, I know. I’m sick and tired of the seemingly never-ending mess that is the Ivan-Perisic-to-Manchester-United transfer saga too. However, as the move continues to look more and more likely with each passing day in this largely inactive Inter Mercato, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the Nerazzurri need to start thinking about a serious replacement.

Over the past two seasons, Perisic has become a mainstay on the left wing. Despite a handful of uninspiring performances during the course of Inter’s abysmal 2016/17 Serie A and Europa League campaigns, the 28-year-old Croatian still managed to rack up 11 goals and 9 assists in all competitions. One or two of those happened to be quite massive goals, too.

Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Perisic has proven to be just as valuable for his goals + assists production as he is for his physical presence and defensive contribution. Inter Milan fans are well aware of Ivan’s blazing speed, impressive strength, and vertical leap. What flies under the radar, however, is Perisic’s subtle ability to track back. In 36 Serie A appearances, Perisic recorded more tackles (42) and more interceptions (26)* than any other left winger in the league in 2016/17.

As Inter and Manchester United inch closer to an agreed upon fee of what could be around £50 million (a popular figure this summer, it seems; see: Kyle Walker), Luciano Spalletti will surely make haste to land one of these suitable left wingers.

It’s also important to mention that * cough cough * certain players * cough cough * who are unsettled at their current clubs will not be included on this list for various reasons.

And so, without further adieu:

Anthony Martial - Manchester United

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

In a relatively recent development, Anthony Martial might just be the man (kid?) most likely to replace Ivan Perisic on Inter’s left flank. Various sources have reported that in order for Perisic to play at Old Trafford next season, Martial must come to the San Siro in return.

Manchester United purchased the Frenchman from Monaco in 2015 for a whopping £36,000,000 (with the potential to rise to £58,000,000), still the highest transfer fee ever paid for a teenager. Since then, Martial has seen his fair share of ups and downs.

Upon immediately arriving at Old Trafford, Martial set the Premier League on fire. After a pretty memorable debut, Martial was named Premier League Player of the Month for September 2015, his very first month in the league. A few months later, he picked up Europe’s Golden Boy award for best U-21 player. He would go on to finish the campaign as Manchester United’s top scorer in both the Premier League (11) and all competitions (17).

2016/17 was not so kind to the young winger, however. Under new manager Jose Mourinho, Martial lost both playing time and popularity. After a slew of underwhelming performances early in the season, he saw his starting spot disappear. As it usually goes, rumors started to fly that Martial wanted out of Old Trafford. After an almost equally unimpressive second half of the season, it’s safe to say that the winger’s future as a Manchester United player isn’t too promising.

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

What’s promising for Inter is that Anthony Martial is still just 21-years-old. As raw as he can look at times, his upside is undeniably enticing. Despite only scoring four goals in the 2016/17 season, Martial is still a player of breathtaking pace and super dribbling skill. He can change a game with one lung-busting run or unleash a cracker like this on occasion. While his crossing and defensive contribution could definitely improve (both are significantly lower than Perisic’s per-game levels), it’s important to remember that Martial can only get better. In short, we could do a lot worse than getting him in return for Ivan Perisic.

Domenico Berardi - U.S. Sassuolo

Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Again? Again. Domenico Berardi, a lifelong Interisti, is a player that the Nerazzurri have pursued for quite some time. After Inter made a legitimate attempt to sign the 22-year-old Italian during last year’s summer Mercato, Berardi (co-owned by both Juventus and Sassuolo at the time) had a bit of an awkward fallout with Juventus and ended up becoming a Sassuolo player for good.

This was obviously good news for Inter. This spring, it looked likelier than ever that Berardi could very well be donning a black and blue shirt come Fall 2017.

This summer, however, Berardi-to-Inter rumors have yet to pick up much traction.

Domenico Berardi, statistically speaking, would be a fine replacement for Perisic on Inter’s left wing. In fact, he registered more league assists in fifteen less appearances than Perisic. Quite simply, he’s a better passer. In the 2016/17 Serie A season, Berardi averaged more passes, key passes, through balls, and long balls per game.

Berardi also sports impressive versatility. A left-footed player, he can comfortably put in shifts on both the right and left wings.

Berardi even bests Perisic on the defensive side of the ball, too. In 2016/17, Berardi averaged both more tackles per game and more interceptions per game. Overall, he’s a very promising young player who knows the Italian game well. Already, at the age of 22, Berardi has 148 appearances for Sassuolo under his belt, and has appeared regularly in the Italy U-21 squad.

The thing is: how likely is his move to Inter?

Keita Baldé - Lazio

Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images

Finally, we have Keita Baldé

Lazio’s 22-year-old Senegalese left winger has been unsettled in the Italian capital for some time now, and as a move to Inter looks increasingly possible in recent days, some reports even claim that the young goalscorer is on his way to Milan to meet with Inter now.

Over the past few months, clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Juventus have been tracking the former Barcelona youth player extensively, and for good reason.

Keita is one of the most promising young players in Serie A, recording 16 goals and 3 assists in the 2016/17 season from the left wing position. He’s one of the fastest players in all of Italian football, and he possesses fantastic skill to go along with his pace. The numbers don’t lie: Keita averaged 0.6 more dribbles than Ivan Perisic last year, and scored 5 more goals.

Quite an impressive return for a 22-year-old.

Additionally, Keita doesn’t seem like he’d cost the Nerazzurri too much. To get a general gauge of a would-be transfer fee, we can take into account that Chelsea were reportedly preparing a £17 million bid for the Lazio man no less than weeks ago. As it would follow, the sale of Ivan Perisic would more than fund the purchase of Keita.

* - Insigne also had the same number of interceptions as Perisic.


Poll

Which player would best replace Ivan Perisic?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Anthony Martial
    (49 votes)
  • 36%
    Domenico Berardi
    (140 votes)
  • 43%
    Keita Baldé
    (167 votes)
  • 5%
    Someone else
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    There is no replacement for Perisic
    (10 votes)
387 votes total Vote Now