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Kranjcar on Perisic: “An all-round player that really doesn’t have much of a weakness”

Mon 06 June 2022, 11:00|Tottenham Hotspur

There are perhaps not many better people to ask for insight on our latest recruit Ivan Perisic than his former international team-mate and former Spur Niko Kranjcar.

A midfielder who made more than 70 appearances for us between 2009 and 2012 and a member of the first Spurs side to qualify for the UEFA Champions League back in 2010, Niko has a long history with Ivan.

First crossing paths in 2005 at Hajduk Split where Niko was plying his trade while our newest signing was graduating from the youth system, the pair were later reunited on the international scene in 2011 when Ivan received his first call-up to the Croatian national team. Over the next two years, they made seven appearances together in the Balkan nation’s iconic red and white checkerboard strip before Niko’s retirement from international football.

Now aged 37 and a coach for Croatia’s Under-19s, we caught up with Niko to ask him, what can Spurs fans expect from his compatriot Ivan?

“Everything,” he smiled. “I think everything that they expect and believe he will bring, they will get with him.

“First of all, he is joining a manager that has worked with him before and knows everything about him and vice versa. And then I don’t think there is much for him to adapt to once he has settled in with his new team-mates and the style of play that Antonio Conte wants him to play, which he is already familiar with. I really don’t think or expect he will take long to adapt to the Premier League.

“I must admit, for me, along with Luka (Modric), he is probably the biggest reason that the Croatian national team has had the success it has had because his goals, assists and his ability to make a difference in the final third is something that the team has relied on. He is a proven threat in the final third. He is quick with both feet. His strike is phenomenal with both feet. He has a great physique. He is a true professional and, to be fair, I can’t think of anything that would hinder him from showing all of his qualities at Spurs and in the Premier League.

“He adapted really well to playing wingback at Internazionale, which isn’t his natural position. Of course, in my opinion, his best position is at left wing, cutting inside, but he can go both ways because he is so good with both feet. But to adapt to play at wingback and the way he did it for Inter in the latter part of his career proves not only what a great skill set he has but also his mentality and willingness to do things for the team - and that only speaks volumes about his physique and fitness levels, which are phenomenal. He is an all-round player that really doesn’t have much of a weakness.”

I can’t think of anything that would hinder him from showing all of his qualities at Spurs and in the Premier League.

Niko on Ivan Perisic

In his own career, Niko is also currently showing his ability to adapt as, having retired from the professional game in 2018, he has recently moved into coaching, taking up a position within the Croatia Under-19s set up.

“It took me four years to come back into the footballing world,” he admitted. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back into it. I needed some time for myself, and my family and I really enjoyed in that time. But then the call came from a really good friend of mine Josip Simunic and he asked if I would join him coaching - he’s the manager and I’m one of his assistant coaches – so I’m still involved in football, but more on the sidelines now.

“I got involved in it and I’m enjoying it. I think it is a great platform to help young kids to develop, not just in football but in life. Hopefully I can give them some good advice on everything I went through in football.”