After being forced to sell two of its top players because of financial constraints, Inter Milan now faces the prospect of losing another on a free transfer.
Inter Milan winger Ivan Perišić is driving the Nerazzurri forward in Europe and in Serie A, where it is launching a stern defense of its league title despite the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi, as well as coach Antonio Conte.
But the 32-year-old’s contract runs out at the end of the season and he seems to already have made up his mind about leaving, reportedly saying he feels the need for a change.
“Ivan is doing extraordinary things. The club knows my thoughts on him renewing his contract,” said Simone Inzaghi, who took over from Conte in the offseason.
Perišić was already a key player under Conte but has become vital under Inzaghi this season, featuring in 16 of Inter’s 18 matches and weighing in with three goals and two assists.
His latest goal helped Inter beat Napoli 3-2, inflicting a first loss onto Luciano Spalletti’s team and reducing the Serie A champion's gap to the top two to four points.
Next up for Inter is Saturday’s trip to Venezia, which is still at the wrong end of the table but has won its past two matches to creep away from danger.
But Inter will also be full of confidence after beating Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday to reach the knockout stage of Europe’s premier club competition for the first time in 10 years.
Edin Džeko grabbed the headlines by scoring both of Inter’s goals but Perišić was the star of the show.
Perišić’s performance was outstanding as he appeared to be everywhere on the San Siro pitch, making important tackles in defense and also having a hand in both goals with fantastic runs down the left wing — so much so that after Džeko scored his second, he immediately ran over to the Croatia international, who was embraced by his teammates as if he had scored the goal.
Perišić almost capped his night with a goal himself but it was ruled out for offside.
“I’m happy with my performance, but what matters more is the team’s results,” Perišić said after the match. “It was important that we won and played well. We need to keep this up, we’re heading in the right direction.
“Am I in my best form? No, I’ve had many great moments in my career and I want to keep this up.”
The Nerazzurri will be hoping it is with them that Perišić has many more.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Daniella Matar, The Associated Press