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Inter star Perisic was conned by Arsenal transfer offer, insists Spalletti

00:46 GMT 01/02/2019
Ivan Perisic Inter 2018-19
The Gunners showed interest in the Croatia international during January but failed to negotiate a deal

Inter boss Luciano Spalletti insists Ivan Perisic was conned and that the club have to get him back on track after the midfielder had his head turned by interest from Arsenal in the January transfer window.

Spalletti's side lost a dramatic Coppa Italia quarter-final to Lazio on penalties on Thursday in which Perisic was an unused substitute. 

Reports had claimed the Serie A club rejected a loan offer for the Croatia international which included an option of a permanent deal for €40 million (£35m/$46m) in the summer, although Inter director Piero Ausilio revealed they had received no suitable offers.

As well as the set back of the saga surrounding Perisic, Inter midfielder Radja Nainggolan has struggled this term after suffering an ankle injury earlier in the campaign. 

Speaking to Rai Sport after the defeat to Lazio, Spalletti said: “We’ve got to get Perisic back on track, but also Nainggolan, as he had injuries, setbacks and various issues. He needs time on the field and patience.

“As for Perisic, there was this story on the market, but he is a professional, understands his role and yesterday it was already a very different mood. These things happen in the transfer window, the player received an impressive proposal and was tempted. However, he then realised it was not a true offer, that he’d been conned, and took a step back.

“Now he’ll resume training and as soon as his mind is back fully on Inter, we’ll let him play.”

Inter equalised in the final minute of extra time against Lazio after an intervention from VAR determined that Sergej Milinkovic-Savic had fouled Danilo D'Ambrosio in the box, allowing Mauro Icardi to score a late penalty. 

Stefan Radu received a red card for protesting that decision in a dramatic affair, but the Rome-based club secured qualification when Lucas Leiva netted the winning penalty in the shoot-out. 

“You should do me a favour and ask someone else to say if that was a penalty," Spalletti added. "If the free-kick hasn’t been taken yet and someone punches somebody in the box, it’s still a penalty.

“It’s better to talk about the development of the game. I am not in any position to analyse these incidents.

“We started a bit tense, but the game started to develop, we were in it all the way, but then got a bit frenetic and that doesn’t work against Lazio.

“We lacked some sharpness in our passing and when Lazio welcomed us forward, we had to move it from right to left and back again, otherwise they’d have five defenders behind the ball. You’ll never hurt them without doing that.

“It seemed to be a game totally in the balance and could only be decided on penalties.”