Antonio Conte has eight players unable to surrender at Tottenham Hotspur, including Ivan Perisic, ahead of hosting Southampton on the opening day of the 2022/23 Premier League season.
Ivan Perisic and Antonio Conte 7 other Tottenham players unfamiliar with Southampton
Tottenham Hotspur signed Ivan Perisic’s two-year contract as a free agent a month ago, and he is already among the indomitable players of Antonio Conte to face Southampton.
The Saints visit north London on Saturday 6 August to unveil the new season, hoping to repeat last season’s result. Spurs went ahead twice at home to Ralph Hessenhuttl’s side again in February, but let points go to waste in the 82nd minute through Che Adams to lose 2-3.
Conte could still guide Spurs into the top four in the table and beat Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League. Since then, the Italian tactician, with Spurs managing director Fabio Paratici, has entered the market to secure the transmission of six new deals so far.
Perisic was the first to go through the door after agreeing to a transfer for Bosman after his contract at Inter Milan expired. Fraser-Forster quickly followed suit after allowing his contract at Southampton to expire, while Barracci agreed a £25m deal, rising to £35m, with Brighton in exchange for Yves Bisoma.
Tottenham have also agreed an initial fee of £50m, rising to £60m, with Everton in exchange for Richarlison on a five-year contract. Clement Lenglet joined Conte on a season-long loan from Barcelona, while Spence’s grandfather arrived from Middlesbrough for £12.5m, rising to £20m.
But only Perisic can feel confident that he will start Tottenham’s first game of the season at home to Southampton as one of Conte’s six summer signings so far.
Ivan Perisic is the only one who can’t envy Tottenham’s summer signing for Southampton
Perisic has proven during Tottenham’s pre-season why Conte is seeking to sign the 33-year-old as a free agent from Inter Milan. The Croatian gave more attacking intent in the role of left-back than the Italian could get from Ryan Sessegnon, and in particular Sergio Reguilon.
His quick square-to-box races on the left channel will prove particularly essential, with a bigger impact also on the game. Conte knows firsthand what Perisic can offer from his time at Inter Milan, with the veteran a long-range and up-close threat, as well as a builder.
Perisic scored four goals and five assists in 32 Serie A games under Conte on his way to lift the 2020/21 Scudetto title. He also provided eight goals and seven assists in 34 Serie A games in a more advanced left-wing role under Simone Inzaghi last season.
Now, Perisic is likely one of Conte’s eight players unable to surrender – and the only summer signing for Tottenham guarantees a start, bar any injuries – for the impending Southampton trip.
Jed Spence to compete with Matt Doherty at the start against Southampton
Spence is competing initially with Matt Doherty as a right-back, with the latter likely to remain the first choice. The Republic of Ireland international enjoyed a new decade of life after Conte took charge last term. The Italian admitted that Spence was not the one who signed it.
It is likely that Lenglet will need Christian Romero, Eric Dier or Ben Davies to struggle with a late injury to start in central defence. Davies appeared to set up a path for the Barcelona loaner to face Southampton after sustaining an ankle injury, but then made the trip to face Roma in Israel.
An injury could prevent Bisuma from making his Tottenham debut at home to Southampton. The former Brighton broadcaster is in doubt for the curtain riser after suffering a slight hamstring injury during the North London game with Jose Mourinho’s Giallorossi.
Bessouma’s absence from the Saints’ match will likely see Rodrigo Bentancourt start with Pierre-Emile Hogberg in midfield. I went without Oliver Skip for two to three weeks after sustaining a hairline fracture in his heel while training at Hotspur Way.
Antonio Conte faces an attacking selection dilemma against Southampton
Conte does not face a selection dilemma in goal as Hugo Lloris is set to start another season as No. 1. The 35-year-old agreed to sign a new two-year contract in January and has gone on to score 16 clean sheets in the Spurs captain’s 38 league games. Excellent English.
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are expected to be among the eight players unable to escape Tottenham for Southampton as well. Kane regained his form after a difficult start last season when Conte took charge, ending the season with 17 goals in 37 games.
He also provided nine assists, and scored eight goals in addition to 16 goals in 28 games under Conte’s leadership. Meanwhile, Son ended the 2021/22 Premier League season with the participation of the Golden Boot with Dynamo Liverpool Mohamed Salah, as both of them scored 23 goals in the Premier League season.
The final spot in Conte’s attack is a duel between Richarlison’s summer deal and the January arrival of Juventus’ Dejan Kulusevsky. Richarlison was Everton’s top scorer in the Premier League last season with 10 goals, while Kulusevsky took charge of Tottenham in the right wing position.
Kulusevski has made a huge impact after taking out an 18-month loan, with a commitment to buy for £29m next year. But he consistently preferred his left foot and shied away from using his right more often. So Richarlison – the natural right-hand man – expects to get a lot of minutes.
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