Sky Sports: Chelsea join Manchester United in race for Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic

by Leo Nieboer

Chelsea are set to rival Manchester United in the pursuit of Inter Milan and Croatia winger Ivan Perisic over the summer, according to reports from Sky.

Jose Mourinho flew out to Croatia over the March international break to hold talks over a potential bid for the 28-year-old, who has made 40 appearances for Inter this season.

Gianluca Di Marzio recently confirmed that Man United had offered €35m for the Croat, only for the Serie A side to respond by demanding a bid ranging between €55m and €60m.

And according to Sky Sources in Italy, Antonio Conte has joined the bidding war for the winger ahead of what promises to be a busy few weeks.

Conte and Mourinho came to blows earlier on in the season, with the former finally snapping at the Portuguese after yet another Man United tackle sent one of his players sprawling during an FA Cup quarter final clash in March.

On the night, the styles were notably different: Chelsea sought to apply pressure, to push the ten men of United further back and pick them apart; and Mourinho, in response, told his players to get nasty from minute one and, with Chelsea’s wires crossed, hit them on the counter. The plan almost worked, but Conte was the man who prevailed this time around.

But in spite of what was a night of contrasts, the two managers share more in common than they’d probably wish to admit. There is, you sense, an unyielding commitment to holding a watertight defensive shape, whether in the form of a back three of four, that acts as a springboard for midfielders to control the game. Ander Herrera and N’Golo Kante, for example, have essentially fulfilled the same role this season.

With this in mind, their rivalry over Perisic makes perfect sense: for Mourinho, he serves as a more industrious, intelligent left winger than Anthony Martial, perhaps more adept at playing in games that require more discipline; the same thought process, only with Pedro instead, may be prevalent in Conte’s thinking.

Either way, whoever secures the Croat’s signature will deal a significant mental – as well as practical – blow to the other.

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