The curious case of Dusan Tadic

The narrative of Dusan Tadic being a Southampton misfit and reject is quickly becoming as tiresome and lazy as a starting XI composed of players who have left the club.

Without Tadic last season, there’s no doubt that we would have been playing Championship football this season, and throughout our disappointing campaign, Tadic finished as our second highest goal scorer and assist maker.

During our most important home match of the season against Bournemouth, Tadic stepped up and scored both goals to give Saints a fighting chance of staying in the Premier League.  

The three managerial appointments following Ronald Koeman’s tenure took the club from European nights to relegation fights whilst failing to develop and get the best from the squad; no player was a victim of this more than Tadic.

In the two seasons under Koeman, Tadic scored a combined 11 goals and registered 19 assists; whereas in the two seasons under Claude Puel, Mauricio Pellegrino and Mark Hughes he scored a combined nine goals and registered eight assists.

Since joining Ajax in the summer for an estimated £10 million, the Dutch giants have seen the best from him. The Serbia international has scored 22 goals and registered 11 assists in the league alone this season whilst scoring six goals and registering three assists in the Champions League.

It is worth noting the notable lack of class in the Eredivise when compared to the Premier League but Tadic has always been a man for the big occasion so it’s no surprise to see him playing a key part in Ajax’s Champions League campaign.

As Ajax have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League no performance dazzled more than Tadic’s in the round-of-16 second leg against holders, Real Madrid. With the Dutch side trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Tadic scored once and created two assists as they overcame the odds to win 4-1 and progress to the quarter-finals.

Although Tadic was frustrating at times, we always saw glimpses if not substantial evidence of his quality as a playmaker. In terms of overall Premier League assists Tadic isn’t in bad company.

By registering a combined 27 assists in the Premier League for Southampton, he’s second only to Matt Le Tissier and above the likes of Marian Pahars and Adam Lallana in the overall standings.

Southampton’s recruitment has severely damaged the club in recent times and Tadic’s move away from the club has looked a bad piece of business due to his replacement, Mohamed Elyounoussi, struggling to find his feet in the Premier League.

You could argue that his transfer to Ajax in summer was in the interest of both Southampton and Tadic. We were able to receive an eight figure fee for the attacker whilst he was given the opportunity to play Champions League football and compete for domestic trophies.

Although we miss a player of Tadic’s quality, it’s unfair to criticise Southampton when seeing him thrive in the right system and under a genuine coach.

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