After weeks of dissent, fire-sales and uncertainty, Southampton have taken the first, firm step toward re-stabilisation with the signing of Serbian playmaker Dušan Tadic.
The midfielder, who joins on a four-year deal from Dutch side FC Twente, will replace former captain Adam Lallana who completed his transfer to Liverpool last week, but that should be where the names part. Dušan Tadic should not, and does not live in Adam Lallana’s shadow, because Dušan Tadic is a better player than Adam Lallana.
Tadić is not a name that I was familiar with before the rumours began to arise a few weeks back that we were close to securing a deal, and I suspect that many other Southampton fans were in the same boat. As usual, I started doing some digging, and it wasn’t long before I started to realise what kind of talent was on his way to the club.
According to statistics compiled by whoscored.com, Dušan Tadic was officially the best player in the Eredivise last season, with an impressive 16 goals and 14 assists from midfield. Not even league high-scorer Alfred Finnbogason of Heerenveen could touch his 7.8 season average. That compares with Lallana’s 9 goals and 5 assists in the same season – totals vastly below that of the Serbian, clearly.
With the help of Squawka’s comparison matrix, the difference in quality is staggeringly apparent. While Adam managed a higher pass completion percentage than Tadic (a stat hardly surprising considering the simple, patient passing game Southampton used under Mauricio Pochettino last season), the Serb wipes the floor with him in every other important category. The most note-worthy of these stats? Tadic played 119 key passes to Lallana’s 63, and created 133 chances to Adam Lallana’s 68.
The pessimistic amongst you may well be arming yourself with that old, tired adage, “but can he do it on a wet and windy Tuesday night at the Brittania?” While the difference between the English and Dutch leagues is still considerable, why should it be doubted that Tadic’s talent can’t be shifted to the Premier League? Under the tutelage of Ronald Koeman, a manager who knows what it’s like to line up against the tricky Serb, and surrounded by a team that already know of the rigors of life in the Premier League, the transition will not take long. Before Christmas, Tadic should be settled and hitting higher gear – and leaving Adam Lallana in the dust.
The Southampton scouting system is vast and comprehensive. Ronald Koeman is an intelligent and competent manager who knows talent when he sees it. Tie these factors together with the Southampton set up, our million-pound training facilities included, and the stage is set for Dušan Tadic to take the Premier League bull by the horns. Southampton have not just replaced Adam Lallana – they’ve upgraded.