In Focus: Southampton star accuses Puel of lacking respect; will not go down well

According to reports in The Sun, Southampton midfielder Dusan Tadic has launched an attack on manager Claude Puel after being substituted in the club’s last five matches.

What’s the story, then?

Well, the 28-year-old has obviously become increasingly frustrated at the fact that he is being continually taken off by Puel when he still feels he has the fitness to stay – and ability to make a difference for his team – on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes.

What’s he said?

Following the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham on Sunday, the Serbia international said: “It’s unbelievable that I was subbed again and we also lost.

“You can see statistically that we concede or lose when I’ve been taken off. I don’t think this shows enough respect for me.

“I’m playing a lot and feel I’m important for the team — but then I leave the pitch.

“Maybe he decided before the game he would sub me and he should not do that.

“We spoke before about that and I told him [Puel] a few times that but he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t show enough respect for me.”

Ouch. Damning words, no?

They are, and words that are sure to not go down well with Puel and the Saints hierarchy.

Tadic may find that he has some explaining to do when he returns from international duty with Serbia, and it has certainly put some long-term question marks over his future at St Mary’s.

Does he have a point?

Perhaps, yes.

As well as the loss to Spurs, Saints were also conceded goals away at Everton and Burnley after the attacking midfielder had been substituted, while he also came off when the scoreline was 2-2 in the EFL Cup final against Manchester United.

Tadic has proved that he is one of the south coast outfit’s most creative players since moving from FC Twente in 2014, and he has provided 23 assists in 88 Premier League appearances for the club.

He is also usually replaced by club-record signing Sofiane Boufal, which will be a further frustration for the 28-year-old as the Moroccan is still visibly struggling to adapt to the English game.

What’s the verdict, then?

While he may feel that he is in the right, Tadic should do his talking with the manager behind closed doors and on the pitch, rather than in the media.

It will be interesting to see what Puel does when Bournemouth visit St Mary’s next month, but realistically he can ill-afford to drop one of his best attacking players – especially following the injury to Manolo Gabbiadini at White Hart Lane.