Dusan Tadic's journey from Southampton to Ajax
Dusan Tadic is just the ninth player to receive a 10/10 rating from French publication, L'Equipe
Last Updated: 06/03/19 12:09pm
Dusan Tadic produced a man-of-the-match performance as Ajax dismantled Real Madrid in the Champions League, so how did he go from the Southampton bench to a perfect 10?
It has been quite the season for Dusan Tadic. Few Southampton fans mourned his departure when he made a £10m move to Ajax in the summer, but his resurgence in form was epitomised in his perfect performance against Real Madrid on Tuesday evening.
It seemed like an impossible feat for Ajax, who headed to the Bernabeu with a 2-1 deficit from the first leg against a team who had reigned supreme in the Champions League for over 1,000 days.
It was an all-or-nothing approach from the Eredivisie side and it paid dividends, thrashing the European giants 4-1 on the night - taking a 5-3 aggregate win - and securing their spot in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 16 years.
Tadic was undoubtedly the star of the show. He had already became the first player in Ajax's history to score four successive goals in the competition when he scored five in three games against Benfica, AEK Athens (2) and Bayern Munich (2) during the group stages.
He added to this with a goal and two assists against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, after failing to have an impact in the first leg, and has been directly involved in more goals than any other player in the Champions League this season (6 goals, 3 assists).
But perhaps most impressively, he received a 10/10 score in the player ratings from French publication, L'Equipe - a feat that only eight other players have managed before him.
Players who have received 10/10 from L'Equipe
|Sauzee||France v Greece, 1988|
|Oleg Salenko||Russia v Cameroon, 1994|
|Lars Windfeld||Aarhus v Nantes, 1997|
|Lionel Messi||Barcelona v Arsenal, 2010|
|Lionel Messi||Barcelona v Bayer Leverkusen, 2012|
|Robert Lewandowski||Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid, 2013|
|Carlos Eduardo||Nice v Guingamp, 2014|
|Neymar||Paris Saint-Germain v Dijon, 2018|
|Dusan Tadic||Ajax v Real Madrid, 2019|
Indeed, no Ajax player received a score below a seven while Real Madrid's squad barely went above a four. Casemiro was given a one.
After the game, Tadic said: "This is probably the best game of football I've ever played. We beat the best club in the world. I'm very proud and I think we made a lot of people happy tonight... Zidane was always my favourite player. Maybe I was watching too many of his clips."
Manager Erik ten Hag also called his side 'pretty close to perfection' and he has made sure that Tadic has had some of the pressures of his Southampton days lifted off his shoulders.
When at St Mary's, Tadic was the man they were looking at to make things happen. Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane also received the same attention and handled it well, earning them moves to Liverpool.
But Tadic struggled under the spotlight and did not forge a potent attacking partnership with either Nathan Redmond or Sofiane Boufal, who were bought to support the Serbia international. As the focal point of Southampton's attacks, he was easily nullified.
However, as Ajax proved on Tuesday, Tadic is part of a much more creative puzzle. Frenkie de Jong's talent has already earned him a move to Barcelona at the end of the season, while Hakim Ziyech and David Neres - who scored the opening two goals on Tuesday inside 18 minutes - are there for support with their own impressive set of skills.
It has allowed Tadic to shake off the shackles and hit the heights that had been bubbling under the surface during his years in the Premier League.
As he said when he moved to Ajax in the summer: "I'm very happy because Ajax is one of the biggest clubs in Holland and the world. It was always my dream to be at Ajax. It was an easy decision because I had a lot of opportunities in the Premier League and other countries but I think Ajax is best for my future."
For now, it looks like his dream is coming true.