Antonio Conte has eight undroppable players 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’S 7 OTHER TOTTENHAM UNDROPPABLE FOR SOUTHAMPTON
Tottenham Hotspur sealed the signing of Ivan Perisic on a two-year contract as a free agent a month ago, and he is already among Antonio Conte’s undroppable to face Southampton.
The Saints visit north London on Saturday, August 6 to raise the curtain for the new season, hoping to repeat last term’s result. Spurs led twice at home to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side back in February but would let the points slip in the 82nd minute through Che Adams to lose 2-3.
Conte would still manage to guide Tottenham into the top-four of the table and pip Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League. And the Italian tactician, with Spurs managing director Fabio Paratici, has since hit the market to secure the transfers of six new signings thus far.
Perisic was the first through the door after agreeing on a Bosman transfer after his contract at Inter Milan expired. Fraser Forster soon followed after allowing his contract at Southampton to end, while Paratici agreed a £25m, rising to £35m, deal with Brighton for Yves Bissouma.
Tottenham also agreed an initial £50m fee, rising to £60m, with Everton for Richarlison on a five-year contract. Clement Lenglet has joined Conte’s ranks on a season-long loan transfer from Barcelona, while Djed Spence 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 undroppables from the six summer signings so far.
IVAN PERISIC ONLY UNDROPPABLE TOTTENHAM SUMMER SIGNING FOR SOUTHAMPTON
Perisic proved through Tottenham’s pre-season why Conte sought to sign the 33-year-old as a free agent from Inter Milan. The Croatian gave more attacking intent in the left-wing-back role than the Italian could get from Ryan Sessegnon and, particularly, Sergio Reguilon.
His box-to-box sprints on the left-hand channel will prove particularly key, while also having a greater influence on the game. Conte knows first-hand what Perisic can give from his time in charge of Inter Milan, with the veteran a long and close-range goal threat, plus a creator.
Perisic struck four goals and five assists over 32 Serie A appearances under Conte on route to lifting the 2020/21 Scudetto. He also provided eight goals and seven assists over his 34 Italian top-flight games in a more advanced left-wing role under Simone Inzaghi last season.
Now, Perisic is likely to be one of Conte’s eight undroppable players – and Tottenham’s only summer signing guaranteed to start, barring any injuries – for Southampton’s imminent trip.
DJED SPENCE RIVALLING MATT DOHERTY FOR STARTING HONOURS AGAINST SOUTHAMPTON
Spence is rivalling Matt Doherty for starting honours at right-wing-back, with the latter likely to remain first-choice. The Republic of Ireland international enjoyed a new lease of life after Conte took charge last term. And the Italian has admitted Spence was also not his signing.
Lenglet will likely need one of Cristian Romero, Eric Dier or Ben Davies to suffer a late injury to start at centre-half. Davies had seemed to create a route for the Barcelona loanee to face Southampton after sustaining an ankle injury, but then made the trip to face Roma in Israel.
An injury could also keep Bissouma from making his competitive Tottenham debut at home to Southampton. The former Brighton anchor is a doubt for the curtain-raiser after suffering a slight hamstring tweak during the north Londoners’ tie with Jose Mourinho’s Giallorossi.
Bissouma sitting out the Saints affair will likely see the undroppable Rodrigo Bentancur start with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in central midfield. Conte is without Oliver Skipp for the next two to three weeks after picking up a hairline fracture in his heel during training at Hotspur Way.
ANTONIO CONTE FACES ONE ATTACKING SELECTION DILEMMA FOR SOUTHAMPTON CLASH
Conte faces no selection dilemma in goal with Hugo Lloris set to start another season as the No.1. The 35-year-old agreed to sign a new, two-year contract in January, and went on to record 16 clean sheets over the Tottenham captain’s 38 Premier League appearances.
Talismanic forwards Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min will expect to be among Conte’s eight undroppable Tottenham players for Southampton, as well. Kane recaptured his form after a tough start to last term once Conte took over, to end the season with 17 goals in 37 games.
He also laid on nine assists, with eight plus 16 goals struck in 28 appearances under Conte. Son, meanwhile, ended the 2021/22 Premier League campaign by sharing the Golden Boot with Liverpool dynamo Mohamed Salah, having each hit 23 goals in the top-flight season.
The final spot in Conte’s attack is a duel between summer signing Richarlison and January arrival from Juventus Dejan Kulusevski. Richarlison was Everton’s top-scorer in the Premier League last term with 10 goals, while Kulusevski took ownership of Spurs’ right-wing duties.
Kulusevski made a huge impact after securing an 18-month loan, with an obligation to buy for £29m next year. But he continually favoured his left foot and shied away from using his right too often. So, Richarlison – a natural right-footer – will expect to get a lot of minutes.