Mourinho was very keen
Every half-decent footballer has been linked with Manchester United at some point in their career. From Wesley Sneijder to Nico Gaitan – who I’m not sure actually exists – United have come close to signing absolutely everyone who’s anyone in the past 20 years.
In that category of being constantly linked for what felt like years but never actually signing for United is Inter Milan winger Ivan Perišić.
The Croatian was somewhat of a late bloomer; he was part of Jurgen Klopp’s Bundesliga winning side in 2011/12 but didn’t truly get the plaudits his talents warranted until he left for Wolfsburg and then Inter.
In the summer of 2017, José Mourinho was in need of an ambidextrous winger to cross the ball to Lukaku, and was thus very keen on bringing Perišić to Old Trafford.
United made an offer, but Perišić stayed put. In a recent interview with FourFourTwo magaizne, he explained the Luciano Spalletti was a key factor in his decision to remain with Inter.
“It’s true that an offer from Manchester United was on the table – I was really close to leaving Inter,” Perišić said.
“When Luciano Spalletti arrived [in June 2017], he showed tremendous desire to keep me in the team and made it clear he didn’t want to lose me. That was very encouraging, and I haven’t regretted my decision to stay at Inter. In football, small details in these situations are key.
“Admiration from a coach like Mourinho is definitely something that flattered me. It’s confirmation of hard work and good performances.
“When you’re praised by a guy like Mourinho – the manager of a huge club like Man United – it’s difficult not to think about such an offer. I’m glad he has a high opinion of me. These things motivate me to work and train hard, to achieve the best performances.”
Perišić won’t have endeared himself to English fans with his equalising goal in the World Cup semi-final, but has refused to rule out a move to the Premier League in the future.
“In football, you never say never,” Perisic added. “From the beginning of my career, I’ve had the ambition to play in as many big leagues as possible, and I still have that desire to test myself in other leagues. And I mean in the Spanish or English leagues.
“I hope Inter fans understand my point of view. I’m an athlete and a professional, I like challenges and this is my driving force. What the future will bring, I don’t know. Now I’m focused on Inter, as we try to make a bigger step forward from last season.”