Why Southampton should look to build around Dusan Tadic
It was announced on Friday morning that Dusan Tadic had signed a new four-year contract at Southampton, which will keep him at the club until he is 31. He joined from FC Twente for a fee of £10.9m in 2014 and has established himself as a key player for the Saints. The Serbian is one of the most creative players in the league and it is great news for Southampton that they have tied him down for the peak years of his career.
Since joining the club, Tadic has featured prominently for Southampton in the Premier League and has carried on his form from the Eredivisie. Across 65 league matches for Southampton, Tadic has contributed 11 goals and 19 assists. His output improved during his second season at the club and they will need him to be even better this year after the loss of Sadio Mane.
He had a good relationship with Ronald Koeman and was signed by Southampton due to Koeman’s knowledge of the Dutch game. However, he was occasionally dropped from the first team and used as a substitute for reasons unknown. There was a feeling that the Dutchman didn’t trust Tadic completely and that could have played a part in the midfielder’s inconsistency.
Under Claude Puel, Southampton should look to build around Tadic and the midfielder’s new contract suggests that may be the case. He is the most creative player that Southampton have in their squad, as highlighted by his chance creation rate last season. Tadic created 2.15 chances per game, which shows how much threat he possesses in the final third.
Only Christian Eriksen and Mesut Ozil had more assists in the league last season, which is surprising given the lack of plaudits coming Tadic’s way. To give his accomplishments some context, Dimitri Payet contributed 9 goals and 12 assists at West Ham and was in the running for the PFA player of the year award. This is only fractionally better than Tadic’s haul and Payet played nearly 300 minutes more.
His ability is unquestionable and, at the age of 27, he is approaching this season at his peak. Southampton have lost some key players once again this summer, but managing to keep Dusan Tadic could be the most important bit of business done by the club. Although Koeman has left, Southampton supporters should be boosted by the appointment of Claude Puel.
The Frenchman was the first manager to be able to get the best out of Hatem Ben Arfa last season, with the former Newcastle player doing extremely well at Nice and earning a move to PSG as a result. If he can get a maverick like Ben Arfa to perform at a Champions League level consistently, then he can take Tadic’s game to the next level as well.
The departures of both Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane create doubts about how Southampton are going to line up this season in the attacking half. Nathan Redmond will add some pace and flair to the attack, but Tadic is the only player they have who can influence matches on a weekly basis. He is good enough to win the club points on his own. If he is given a free role and substituted less often than last season, he could be set for his best season in English football.
Southampton have been improving year-on-year since being promoted to the Premier League and the departure of Ronald Koeman was a huge blow. However, they now have a manager who is known for maximising the talent available to him. In Dusan Tadic, he has a midfielder who is already one of the most creative in the league and capable of achieving more. Although Southampton are likely to drop a few places from last season, they remain a force to be reckoned with. They have managed to continually bounce back from summer sales. This year is going to be their hardest yet, but if they build around Dusan Tadic, they have a great chance of having yet another successful season.
Featured image: All rights reserved by ariesarsenal