In recent comments cited by the Evening Standard, the 53-year-old revealed that, with Richarlison ruled out of Wednesday evening’s trip to Old Trafford as a result of a calf injury, as well as Dejan Kulusevski remaining a doubt with a hamstring strain, he could unleash Ivan Perisic in a surprising front three alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
Regarding his attacking trio, the Italian manager said: “Perisic in a three like a striker is a possibility. I have another training session to make the best decision. You know we like to play with a 3-4-3 with the three strikers and if we can’t change, I prefer to continue to play with the 3-4-3 otherwise we find a solution. I think we have the possibility to continue to play with the 3-4-3.”
While it is true that Perisic has solely been deployed as a wing-back since his move to north London this summer, considering the 33-year-old’s incredibly impressive history of playing further up the pitch, unleashing the Croatian in Tottenham’s front three could well prove to be game-changing for Conte’s side.
Indeed, over the course of his club career, the £17.5m-rated talent has predominantly featured on the left wing, scoring 66 goals and registering 62 assists over his 246 appearances in the position, as well as bagging a further ten goals and four assists over 41 fixtures when being deployed on the right wing.
Undoubtedly the £180k-per-week flanker’s best returns in an attacking position came over his 37 Serie A outings for Inter Milan back in 2017/18, when Perisic scored eight goals, registered 11 assists and created 13 big chances for his teammates, in addition to taking an average of 3.1 shots – 1.1 of which hit the target – making 2.0 key passes and completing 0.8 dribbles per game.
These returns saw the Croat average a simply sensational SofaScore match rating of 7.31, not only ranking him as the Nerazzurri’s third-best performer in the league but also as the 21st-best player in the Italian top flight as a whole that season.
As such, should the 33-year-old be able to refind this level of form alongside Kane and Son – who already have 15 goals and assists combined in the Premier League this term – in the Spurs front three, it is clear to see that unleashing Perisic in attack against United could prove game-changing for Conte – let alone making up for the absence of Kulusevski and Richarlison.