Ivan Perisic has been one of the revelations of the season and a key player in Inter Milan’s ultimately unsuccessful challenge to retain the Serie A title, but the dynamic wide man could be out the door come the summer.
Eight goals and six assists in the league from the wing-back do not tell the whole story behind the 33-year-old’s impact in Simone Inzaghi’s debut season as coach, his hugely impressive form pushing Inter to try to extend his stay in Milan.
The Croatia international’s contract expires at the end of next month and he is yet to strike a deal with Inter as they have refused to meet his demand of six million euros ($6.3 million) a season.
Italian media report that Juventus are willing to step in and offer Perisic what he wants in order to take one of the league’s shining lights to Turin while Paulo Dybala potentially goes in the other direction.
But Inter fans are aghast at the thought of one of their star men heading to their fiercest rivals, a sentiment which has pushed CEO Giuseppe Marotta and sporting director Piero Ausilio to work out a structured deal with performance-related bonuses that would take Perisic to his desired figure.
“I don’t know about my future, but when it comes to important players you can’t wait until the last minute,” Perisic said after his extra-time double won Inter the Italian Cup against Juve.
That was just one of a series of performances which kept Inter in the title race and left January signing Robin Gosens on the bench.
German international wing-back Gosens, one of the stars of Gian Piero Gasperini’s flamboyant Atalanta team, was brought in on loan but made a permanent signing in April despite only playing a few minutes since arriving at the San Siro.
Gosens has been hampered by a series of muscular injuries which have ruined his season but he has nonetheless played very little even when he has been fit.
Perisic has motored into the run-in with some of the best displays of his Inter career, setting up five goals and scoring five more since the start of April in league and cup.
The intense burst of productivity was what allowed Inter to shake themselves out of a funk which had lasted for the whole of February and March and push Milan right to very end.
Now the club will be hoping their latest offer will be accepted as Inter try to build on an overall positive debut season under Inzaghi, finishing second two points behind Milan, which suggests they will be force come next campaign.