Inter face catch-22 with regards to Ivan Perisic, continue to fall behind Milan

It hasn't been an easy summer for Inter fans. While rivals AC Milan are seemingly buying every player under the sun and building an overhyped contender, the Nerazzurri have added just two new names. Though one of them is midfield wizard Borja Valero, it's hard to weigh the 32-year-old up against Leonardo Bonucci, -- perhaps the best defender in the world -- Hakan Calhanoglu, Andre Silva and Ricardo Rodriguez.

To make matters worse, Manchester United's interest has Ivan Perisic pining for a move to Old Trafford, only for Inter to gallantly resist, and ask for at least €55 million, €10m more than what Jose Mourinho's side is offering.

Already peeved by the lack of signings, Coach Luciano Spalletti still seems willing to work with Perisic, recently saying that he'd "listen to him. I'm counting on him but we'll have to understand his intentions. It would not be nice for me to hear him say words like 'I want to leave.' We'll see."

With the club forced to keep its books balanced next season by Financial Fair Play regulations, new owners Suning are torn between keeping up the appearance of a club that doesn't need to sell (losing Mauro Icardi to rivals Napoli last summer would have been a huge psychological blow), and potentially leaving the squad incomplete if they don't cash in.

In a campaign which will go down in history for its many lows, the Croatian was a shining light, a beacon of hope, someone who could be counted on to run his socks off and always be a threat going forward. Nerazzurri fans will certainly miss Perisic's silky skills, like giving opponents the slip with a sudden turn, as if he were the Road Runner of Looney Tunes fame.

The former Wolfsburg winger's scoring instinct -- 11 Serie A goals last season -- seems to emerge in big games, his strikes against Juventus and Milan going down in Inter lore.

A prolific crosser, the 28-year-old put 197 balls into the box last season in Serie A action -- and that was just from open play. The prospect of the Croatian teaming up with £75m signing Romelu Lukaku is mouth-watering, at least on paper.

And yet one can't escape the feeling that there's something missing, that Perisic isn't quite a world-class player. For someone who is reputed for his tricky feet, he only manages 2.2 dribbles per game according to Opta (57th in Serie A), possible evidence that he relies too much on his fake inside, before darting off to the left.

Beyond a tendency to disappear in games, Perisic is a stunning 8th in the Serie A for inaccurate crosses per game, and may not be right profile to feed Mauro Icardi.

At 28, moreover, the Croatian has arguably reached his peak. How much can he really improve? Inter may never be able to get such a good price for him again, especially if he keeps moping like did in a recent squad picture taken in the Tyrolean Alps.

But is letting him go really worthwhile? Even if Perisic fails at Manchester United -- and his profile suggests the opposite -- Inter could still regret letting him go.

Who can genuinely claim to be elite in this squad, at least by Inter standards? Probably only Icardi, Samir Handanovic, Roberto Gagliardini (possibly) and Perisic himself. That's it.

Maybe €55m million is the right price to sell -- Kevin De Bruyne went for a similar sum -- but it doesn't mean Inter can afford to lose such a rare commodity, in a squad where many positions are "covered" by just as many bad players, and where few have been genuinely nailed down. Perisic also happens to play on the left, a comparatively rare commodity in modern football.

It really is a tough conundrum to settle: even criticism of the Croatian's current motivation can't hide the fact that he works hard throughout the 90 minutes, always lending a hand at the back. Imagine if Inter managed to land Dalbert from Nice: it would be goodbye Cristian Ansaldi and hello to the best left-wing combination the Nerazzurri have had since time immemorial.

It will certainly be difficult to sell a player who, even if he declines relatively, will still be a performer. Does the squad have too many gaps to make it worth sacrificing the first Inter midfielder or winger to score more than 10 league goals in a season since 1996-1997?

With new technical coordinator Walter Sabatini working behind the scenes (Borja Valero came out of nothing) it's also hard to tell who the Nerazzurri could realistically land, and what they'd look like without Perisic.

One name, Keita Balde Diao, has bags and bags of talent, but a few character issues, despite Lazio's best attempts at character assassinating him.

All in all, Inter seem to have landed themselves in a no-win situation. One year on from signing Gabigol and Joao Mario for a combined €88 million, the Nerazzurri find themselves possibly forced to sell one of their best. Compare that to Milan's current swashbuckling transfer window, and the picture gets even bleaker.