Kovac defends Perisic deal: I was second choice too!

By Sports Desk August 14, 2019

Niko Kovac is confident Ivan Perisic will make a positive impact after joining Bayern Munich on loan from Inter, despite him being the club's "second choice".

Bayern made no secret of their desire to buy Leroy Sane from Manchester City, but the Germany winger - now sidelined for up to seven months with a knee injury - stayed with the Premier League champions.

With Chelsea's teenage England international Callum Hudson-Odoi reportedly set to sign a new contract at Stamford Bridge, Bayern were forced to move down their list of transfer targets.

They turned to Kovac's fellow Croatian Perisic, the former Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg winger who found himself surplus to requirements at Inter following the appointment of Antonio Conte as the club's new head coach.

Perisic will spend the 2019-20 season on loan at the Allianz Arena, with the deal including a purchase option, but some fans have expressed anger at what they consider to be an unimaginative signing.

Kovac, though, thinks his own first term at Bayern shows Perisic could be a shrewd addition.

"I was also the second choice [for Bayern] and we won the double, so… It's like this: we made this choice all together," Kovac told a news conference on Wednesday. 

"We analysed and spoke about a lot of names. He [Perisic] was already on the list. I brought him up back then, because I know Ivan, I know what he's capable of, I know what kind of skills he has, and we all know what he's achieved in Germany.

"Personally, I have a good connection to [Perisic's former coach] Dieter Hecking, who told me many things from his time in Wolfsburg. And from the national team, I know his status in Croatia.

"He's one of the top three players in our national team and as you know, the best player in the world is Croatian [Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric]. So, Ivan is certainly a top player and I'm happy to have him."

Perisic faces the daunting task of succeeding Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, both of whom departed the Bundesliga champions at the end of last season after trophy-laden spells in Munich.

"He's very skilled, he's good with both feet, he's very aggressive, has a strong header and is a team player," Kovac added of the versatile forward.

"That's why we reacted immediately, even though we had him on our list before. I'm glad he's here and I'm sure he'll give us exactly what we need on the wings - that kind of drive that we need for our play."

Perisic is unavailable for the opening Bundesliga game of the season against Hertha Berlin on Friday due to serving a suspension that carries over from last season.

"I wish it weren't the case," said Kovac of the ban. "But you have to accept the suspension, even though it doesn't exist in this form in Germany. But if that's the case, we accept it!"

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