Dusan Tadic: The Eredivisie’s best player set to leave the nest
Don’t be fooled by the neat passing of Daley Blind, the rampant goalscoring of Alfred Finnbogason or the looks of Graziano Pellè: Dusan Tadic is the best player of the Eredivisie. In 2013-14, the 25-year-old endured his most prolific season to date, aiding FC Twente with 16 league goals and 14 assists and one will feel that the latter could have been even more if the Serbian magician had a more thankful endpoint to his wonderful passing. Tadic is extraordinary. But maybe the most extraordinary of all is that he has just finished his fourth season in the Eredivisie, despite being his club’s best player year-in year-out.
Tadic made his mark from the first moment he joined the Eredivisie. Brought in for a fee of €1.1 million at FC Groningen, club director Hans Nijland spoke of it being an honour that such a special talent preferred the club from the north to clubs like Montpellier and Borussia Monchengladbach. Nijland is notorious for building up Groningen players – he once dubbed Oluwafemi Ajilore as ‘the new Essien’, saying that the only thing the Nigerian couldn’t do was head the ball – and it has proven that not any player can cope with the pressure. The aforementioned Ajilore, the club’s record signing, was released after a loan spell at Brondby and could never live up to the hype. Tadic was quite the opposite.
In the first league game of 2010-11, he faced a right back who had just competed in a World Cup final. Gregory van der Wiel was a confident young man and a rising star with several international games and Champions league experience under his belt. But the current Paris Saint-Germain player has endured few more torrid afternoons than that Sunday in August 2010. After going 2-0 down to Ajax, Tadic inspired his team to a fight back and went on to draw the match 2-2. The Serb was integral with an assist, but mainly impressed with dazzling past Van der Wiel time and time again. Tadic continued to show his great abilities and, with Tim Matavz as his main focal point, he racked up a total of seven goals and 21 assists that season. The latter was only bettered by two players in Europe: Mesut Ozil and Lionel Messi.
While Groningen fell apart the next season, the Eastern European continued to impress, and with another seven goals and nine assists in the league, he earned himself a transfer to FC Twente. The fixture list for 2012-13 could not be crueller to Groningen fans as Tadic made his debut in a home game against his former team. The forward singlehandedly beat his former club, aiding Twente with scoring twice and setting up a further two assists in a 4-1 thumping. He raged through the Eredivisie in his first six months for FC Twente, but as the Tukkers machine came to a halt, so did he and while it cost Steve McClaren his job, it merely meant a delay for Tadic, who was still on his way to greater things.
There was a slight wonder about him at the start of 2013-14. How was he still an Eredivisie player? With Christian Eriksen and Kevin Strootman gone, surely he would now step up to ensure his status as the Eredivisie’s best? It turned out it was exactly what he did. After FC Twente slumped to 0-0 draw against minnows RKC in their first Eredivisie match without Tadic, it was a 1-4 victory over Feyenoord in the prestigious ‘De Kuip’ that showed how much the 25-year-old was above his fellow professionals. It was not his two goals and assist that drew attention, but his overall intelligence, being one step and sometimes two ahead of every other player on the pitch. His great form continued, turning Twente into title contenders. Again, the Enschede club faded halfway through the season and again, when they struggled, so did he. Or was it the other way around? Tadic was integral in every attacking move and with scoring several winners in the season, he helped Twente to a very respectable third place.
Tadic was the standout player. While Quincy Promes on the right deservedly earned a lot plaudits, he was clearly in the shade of the Serbian international. The Serbia star scored 16 goals, made 14 assists and was by far and large the most creative player in the Dutch top flight last season. While his absolute pace is in question, he has the acceleration to make a difference not to mention the technique, finesse and tactical intelligence. He scored the most left-footed shots, gave the most assists and created the most chances of all players in the league in 2013/14, setting his teammates up for four chances per game on average, an outrageous number.
For us at BeNeFoot, it is the Serbian who was the best player in the 2013/14. Graziano Pellè was amazing for Feyenoord, Finnbogason integral for sc Heerenveen and Jasper Cillessen practically ‘saved’ Ajax’s title bid this season. But none of them were as dominant as Tadic. A talent so gifted one wonders if he should be guilty about depriving such a player of the world stage for four years.