Ivan Perišić joins FC Bayern on loan

Justin Separator August 13, 2019

Perišić has played in the Bundesliga before at Borussia Dortmund and VfL Wolfsburg. He finished second at the 2018 World Cup with the Croatian national team. At Bayern, he is expected to serve as a reinforcement on the wings, probably mainly as the primary backup for Kingsley Coman.

With the signing of Perišić, Bayern has completed the first of three signings that they allededly intend to make this summer.

Bayern was rumoured to have had the intention of signing Perišić already a month ago, yet without going through with the deal. The developments in the Sané transfer could have led the club to reconsider their initial decision now. But will it be possible for a player who did not appear good enough just a month ago to become a valuable addition to the team?

Toying with expectations

At first glance, Perišić’s signing must be a disappointment to many fans. At 30 years of age, he is hardly a long term replacement for Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben. And there are doubts that he is still the player he was in his heyday.

Although he has not collected a lot of scorer points for Inter Milan lately, he obliged fans and club alike with application and passionate performances whenever he was needed. A crucial factor in his recent hard time at Inter was that the coaches have not been able to find the right place for him in the team.

The disappointing development of the Sané transfer is surely another major factor in many a fan’s dismay. But it would be unfair to gauge the Perišić transfer or Ivan Perišić the player by these standards.

What Perišić can add to the club

Bayern’s acquisition of the winger will add much needed depth to the squad and give the club some temporary breathing space on the transfer market with the Sané transfer still in limbo and looking less likely by the day. Even though Perišić is not a player of the highest calibre, he can be of value to the club.

In Bayern’s ordinary run of the mill Bundesliga games, he can replace the established players, allowing them to take a rest. Analogously to the late Rafinha-Kimmich constellation in defence, he can prove valuable as a backup for Coman and Gnabry on the wings.

He is a strong runner, conducts his defensive duties diligently, and has a surprise to offer in attack every now and then. With just 1.1 successful dribbles per 90 minutes since 2011/12 in all competitions (according to WhoScored) he is not the most prolific winger, but with his clever movements, his physique, and his pace, he has other things to add to the Bayern game. He has also been a regular scorer and hardly had any injuries throughout his career.

A new Mr. Double-Double?

Perišić did not have much opportunity to demonstrate his skills at Inter last season. In the 2018/19 season, he managed 17 assists or goals in 3601 minutes of playing time (one assist/goal every 211.82 minutes). This rate could rise under new coach and Croatian compatriot Niko Kovač and alongside better players as teammates. Kovač could use him on the wings and in central offensive midfield.

Perišić has the potential to reach a double-double, i.e. at least 10 goals and 10 assists each in the Bundesliga – or at least come close to this as a substitute player. Robert Lewandowski managed this feat last season (22 goals, 10 assists), and before him Arjen Robben was the last player to do so (13 goals, 11 assists in 2016/17). Lately, Robert Lewandowski appears to have been Bayern’s only reliable scorer. Ivan Perišić might alleviate this situation and take a share in the goal scoring burden. Overall, his addition to the squad will lessen Bayern’s dependence on Gnabry, Müller and Lewandowski in offence – especially at times when one of the other three goes through a rough patch.

Perišić scored 11 goals and added 11 assists in 2017/18’s and 2016/17’s Serie A. So far, he has not been able to do the same in the Bundesliga, neither for Dortmund nor Wolfsburg. He also never was a regular starter for either team (never above 2600 competitive minutes per season and 54 minutes per match on average).

The jury is still out

Stellar these stats are not. Perišić should hence not be viewed as someone capable of replacing Kingsley Coman or Serge Gnabry like for like. But just this week’s DFB Cup match against Cottbus showed that this is not always necessary, not even in most matches. And if the transfer only enables the regular wingers to take a break every now and then and Müller not to stuck slavishly to the flank by Kovač for lack of alternatives, a lot has been gained already.

The final verdict about the Perišić’s transfer is still out. A judgement can’t be reached any sooner than when this season’s squad is finally assembled come September. Only then can the acquisition of Perišić and what he brings to the team be truly evaluated, because what other transfers Bayern is able to make will play a huge part in this. However, at this early stage, the transfer does not seem entirely odd and far-fetched. Even though it may postpone the much demanded rejuvenation of the squad by just another year.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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