With the first interminable international break of the season now done and dusted, and with two wins out of two under our belts in Serie A already, there are plenty of reasons for Interisti to be happy as club football returns to our television screens this weekend.
But on Friday afternoon we were given an even better reason to be happy, as the announcement most Nerazzurri supporters had been waiting on since the beginning of the season was finally made.
After weeks of speculation, Inter finally confirmed that Ivan Perisic has extended his contract with the club until 2022.
“FC Internazionale Milano are happy to announce that Ivan Perisic has renewed his contract and will remain with the Nerazzurri until 30th June 2022!”, reads a brief but buoyant statement.
“Born in Split on 2nd February 1989, Ivan joined Inter during the 2015-16 season. He has since gone on to make 81 appearances in Serie A, domestic cups and the Europa League. He has scored 20 goals for Inter but the story won’t end here…”
Shortly after the announcement, Perisic gave his reaction to the news in an interview with Inter Channel.
“It’s a special day,” he told the club’s in-house TV station. “For sure there’s a bit of emotion for me but I’m also happy, after all the stress of this summer. Now it’s time to look ahead; I’m thinking solely about Inter. Having put pen to paper we simply have to concentrate on the pitch.”
“We’ve done well in our first two games and now we just have to keep going. There are always so many fans supporting us wherever we go and that for us is only a good thing; everything will be easier this season with their support.”
Ivan’s renewal brings a definitive end to the never-ending transfer saga of the summer, which saw the Croatian move backwards and forwards between Inter and Manchester United, the club with whom he agreed personal terms at the end of May.
Perisic spent most of June and July hoping that the two clubs could reach an agreement over a transfer fee, so that he could complete a move that would represent another big step in his career, but despite weeks of negotiation the Premier League outfit refused to meet Inter’s asking price of €50m.
The Nerazzurri were clear right from the beginning of talks that they would not sell their star player for a cent less than that, and ultimately they proved to be as good as their word. When it became clear no such offer was on the horizon, they began talks with the player’s agent Fali Ramadani and quickly reached an agreement for a contract renewal, culminating in Friday’s announcement.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Perisic’s revised contract will see his wages increased to around €4m per year, which makes the Croatian Inter’s second highest-paid player behind club captain Mauro Icardi.
But what convinced Perisic to commit his long-term future to the club, after spending an entire summer in close proximity to the exit door?
“It’s been a long time since I last spoke in public, but now I can say that I spoke with Mister Spalletti back at the start of preseason training. He told me that with him I could become an even better Ivan Perisic than I already am. As well as that Samir Handanovic spoke with me about Spalletti, having already been coached by him at Udinese, and he could only speak well of him to me.”
It is those three sentences that certify Inter’s true triumph this summer. In order to keep Perisic at the club, they didn’t just have to reject any offers they deemed to be insufficient; they also had to convince Perisic personally that staying put was the right move for his career.
Back at the start of June, when the United rumours were still in their infancy, Spalletti sent a very clear message out to all of his new players. When asked if he was confident that Inter could convince Perisic to remain at the club, he said the following:
“We don't have to convince anybody, it's them who have to convince us that they deserve to remain at Inter. Inter is the maximum that anybody can aspire to - at least that's how I'm experiencing this new job. I have incredible enthusiasm to come here and work for this club, so if there's someone who doesn't share this enthusiasm - if there’s someone who needs convincing - then it's better that they go elsewhere.”
In short, keeping Perisic would only be worthwhile if he was going to stick around with the right kind of attitude. If ultimately they did hold onto him - and persuade him to tie himself to the club for another five seasons - we can only assume that they have received reassuring signs in that sense. His performances over the last two months, both in preseason and our first two Serie A matches of the season, would also point squarely in that direction.
If Perisic wanted to go to United for a while, that’s no problem as far as I’m concerned. If he headed into the summer expecting to leave the club, all that matters is that he’s come out of it happy that he didn’t. And if he wasn’t happy that he didn’t, he surely wouldn’t have put pen to paper on a new long-term contract with us (a contract that shouldn’t contain any kind of release clause, for that matter - although that isn’t 100% confirmed yet).
Today’s news enables us to put a stressful summer behind us for good and look forward to the season ahead with renewed optimism (if you’ll pardon the pun). Convincing Perisic to commit himself to the club is a great statement of intent from owners Suning, as well as a testament to Spalletti’s personal powers of persuasion (I know he said he was uninterested in players who needed persuading to stay, but let’s assume he was sensationalising sightly for effect).
We’ve already seen enough between preseason and Serie A to know that this season could be the greatest of Perisic’s career to date. When his head is engaged Ivan is a truly devastating weapon to have at your disposal, and this renewal surely excludes the possibility that his head isn’t engaged.
Today we learned that one of our best players is here for the long haul - and what’s more, he’s happy to be here for the long haul. Forget the end of the international break and 6 points out of 6 - there’s a reason for Interisti to be happy heading into this weekend.
Ivan the Terrible is going nowhere.