Croatian attacking midfielder Ivan Perisic has signed for Wolfsburg, as the most expensive Bundesliga acquisition of the January transfer window. Perisic was struggling to break into Borussia Dortmund's heavyweight side.
Wolfsburg announced on Sunday that they had completed the hunt for Ivan Perisic, signing the 23-year-old for 8 million euros ($10.54 million) from defending champions Borussia Dortmund.
"I'm proud to be here," the Croatian international, a versatile right-footer who's happiest on the left wing, said on Sunday, calling Wolfsburg "a club with great potential."
Perisic was present at Wolfsburg's winter training camp in the Turkish town of Belek, where he signed a contract through 2017.
"That's a long time, in which we intend to accomplish a lot," Wolfsburg's manager Klaus Allofs, in charge of financial matters like hiring and firing, said. "Ivan is a perfect fit with our desires."
Allofs joined Wolfsburg in November after the club sacked coach Felix Magath, who - unusually for German clubs - took care of day-to-day coaching as well as transfer dealings. Allofs appointed former Nuremberg head coach Dieter Hecking to coach the senior squad in December.
"Ivan makes us more flexible," Hecking said of the first Wolfsburg signing under his tenure. "He can play several attacking positions. He will improve the quality of our side. We don't want to invest in depth, but rather improve the level of performance within our team."
Disgruntled on the Dortmund bench
Perisic joined Dortmund roughly 18 months ago from Club Brugges for around 5.5 million euros. The young Croatian, a talented player and solid set piece taker, struggled to break into Dortmund's star-studded starting side.
Competing with German internationals Marco Reus and Mario Götze for the starting spots was tricky enough, but Dortmund's homegrown hero and all-rounder Kevin Grosskreutz - a favorite with fans and coaching staff alike - usually pipped Perisic to the position as "first reserve" as well. Perisic has only started two league games for Dortmund this season, and his inactivity at club level had cost him his place in the Croatian national team.
"We would not have let Ivan go, unless it had been his specific desire," Dortmund chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke said.
Perisic had recently complained in the Croatian press that he didn't feel he had enough support at Dortmund, though he sought a conciliatory tone on his departure, saying he held coach Jürgen Klopp in high esteem.
Wolfsburg, the 2009 Bundesliga champions, sit a disappointing 15th in the league, but have only lost two of their last eight matches. Brazilian playmaker Diego has improved his form, Czech star Vaclav Pilar is due back from injury shortly after the Bundesliga reconvenes from its winter break, and now Perisic can be added to the club's options in attacking midfield as well.
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