With Jerko Leko inactive, Marko Babic confined to the bench, Ivo Ilicevic restricted by second division football and Anas Sharbini in and out of form in the Croatian league, the door is open for new talent to step in to the Croatia squad for upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers. One such candidate is Ivan Perisic..
Perisic will have to go down as one of the bargain buys of the summer. With no playing time at French league strugglers Sochaux, he was allowed to leave for a measly couple of hundred thousand Euro's. A year on the player has been lighting up the Belgian league and the Europa Liga with Club Brugge and is attracting bigger clubs in Germany and Holland with a possible £3m transfer fee being muted. The signs were there last season when Perisic helped guide Roeselaere to safety during a six month loan spell where he scored 8 times.
Goals is a big part of Perisic's game who is compared in playing style to Germany's Mikael Ballack. At only 20, Perisic is a big plus for Croatia, especially as he can play both right and left midfield as well as in the centre. He scores goals coming from deep and is more athletic than Niko Kranjcar, whilst being a better finisher than Luka Modric. Perisic also adds the ability to score regular headed goals which is another component that Croatia currently lack in their squad. If Perisic's form continues as expected it is likely he will compete fiercely with Drago Gabric and Nikola Pokrivac for a place on Croatia's bench. Perisic's goal record also suggests he would be a player Slaven Bilic may often turn to to change a game.
Perisic's presence may also give more time to talents such as Anas Sharbini and Milan Badelj to aclimitize to the step up in standard from Croatian league football as Bilic is unlikely to turn to the Hajduk and Dinamo players whilst having such players as Perisic already well drilled in more competitive football. So far Perisic has 12 goals in 38 games and 10 assists this season as he continues his rise in the European game.