Southampton have been known to be a selling club, developing the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana before selling them on to bigger clubs in the past.
At the start of this season, Danny Ings was sold for £25m to Aston Villa, and while at the time the deal seemed like a bad one for the team, the 29-year-old has scored just five Premier League goals this season and has been outshone by Saints loanee Armando Broja.
One howler the South-coast club have had in recent years though, was the £12m sale of Dusan Tadic to Ajax, which saw him reach the Champions League semi-final with the Dutch club that same season – in which he scored 38 goals and contributed 23 assists in 56 appearances in all competitions for Erik ten Hag’s team.
Despite being 33 now, the Serbian attacker still has a market value of over £13m, one million more than what he was sold for, and in comparison to players born in 1988, he has the second-highest market valuation in the world behind Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski (£43m) and joint with PSG forward Angel Di Maria.
This season, the FK Vojvodina youth team alumni has gone on to captain not just his international team, but also Ajax too – and has 23 goal contributions in 25 Eredivisie appearances this season so far. That’s taken his tally for the Dutch giants to 87, all while averaging an impressive 7.83 match rating according to SofaScore.
Compared to players in his same position in the top 5 European Leagues and teams in European competitions, Tadic is in the top 1% for shot-creating actions per 90 minutes (6.10), crosses (5.80), key passes (3.30), and xG assisted (0.50).
Former Ajax and Holland star Wim Kieft described the former Saints star as “complete” a few years ago, while also comparing him to a legend of the game in Marco Van Basten.
“Dusan Tadic is the most complete striker we’ve had in the Netherlands since the Marco van Basten era,” said Kieft.
“If you put the strikers of Ajax in a row after the Marco van Basten period, then Dusan Tadic is the most complete of them all.
“He cannot match Van Basten because Marco was faster, physically stronger, and could head the ball well. But Tadic’s specific qualities fit great with the football that Ajax likes to play. He lets a team play football.”
In 134 Premier League appearances, Tadic scored 20 goals and assisted 27, but it is clear that Southampton didn’t wait long enough or play enough to his qualities during his time there, and they missed out on a world-class player as soon as he hit his prime after leaving the club.