Those defenders who have had the misfortune of coming up against Dusan Tadic this season might find sympathy from an unlikely source – the Saints playmaker’s mum.

After all, she knows just how infuriatingly difficult it can be to get the ball off him.

“When I was young I was always playing with the ball,” says the charming 25-year-old, smiling as he recalls his days growing up in Serbia.

“My mother always called me, ‘Come, Dusan, to eat’, but I was always out.

“She always watched for where I am, but I was always out with the ball.”

Dislodging Tadic from the ball is no longer his mum’s problem, though.

Instead, that monumentally difficult task has fallen to the defenders in England’s top flight.

So far, it is not going well for them.

Tadic’s captivating blend of skill, balance and poise has proved unfathomable for many opponents this season.

At times, he has been so mesmerising that he has almost resembled a sorcerer, with the ball under his complete command.

It is little surprise, therefore, to discover who his hero was when he was growing up.

“Zinedine Zidane,” he says, without hesitating.

“Some things I tried to do like him, and it was always a pleasure to watch him and how he played.

“Everything looked easy what he did, but it was not so easy. It was really a pleasure to watch him.”

Tadic, who signed from FC Twente this summer in an £11m deal, is very much his own player, though, with his own philosophy on how to play the game.

“I never think what I’m going to do,” he says, when asked about some of the things he tries on the pitch.

“I never think ‘I’m going to do that move, or that move’.

“I just relax and play football how I know it to play.

“You play how you feel in that moment.

“Every game is different, every time is a different situation, and you just do what you feel in that moment.

“This is my opinion, that when you have the ball you need to be relaxed and to play with your mind and your qualities, and you need to play relaxed to play what you see.

“And when you don’t have the ball then you cannot be relaxed. Then you have to be sharp.”

Tadic’s style of play is no fluke of nature, however.

Instead, it is something he has been cultivating ever since those days when his mum used to call despairingly after him.

“When I was playing in youth, always I like to play with the ball and I like to take responsibility and to take risks,” he says.

“Some things you learn. You have natural some things, but I think also there’s some things you learn when you are young, a child, when you learn some nice skills and I think this is really important.

“I think everyone, when you are a child or something, when you grow up, always you watch some players and you want to see some skills – you take some skills off this guy, or this player.

“This is, I think, normal and now I think (people) who start to play football they watch also us and they watch a lot of players – they see some skills and they watch maybe how they can do some things, and I think maybe this is normal.”

What is not normal, however, is Tadic’s phenomenal level of production.

Already this season, he has laid on 25 chances and been credited with six assists in the Premier League – it was seven, until Sadio Mane’s strike against Sunderland was deemed to be an own goal.

The main beneficiary of that creativity has been Graziano Pelle, the former Feyenoord striker who followed him from Holland to St Mary’s in the summer.

“I think we have both like to play together and I think, as the season goes, that it’s going to be better and better for me and for him, and that he’s going to score a lot of goals and I am going to make a lot of assists for him,” he says.

While most footballers’ ultimate desire is to score goals, it is interesting to see Tadic’s eyes light up at the thought of creating them for someone else.

“Always when I play with strikers, some strikers, I make them a lot of assists, and especially when they have a lot of qualities like Graziano then it is more easy for me, but this is my job and I need to do that,” he says.

It was at Saints, under the guidance of new manager Ronald Koeman, where Tadic felt his style would be nurtured best.

“This was one of the reasons I choose Southampton, because I had a lot of other offers from other countries, and also in England, but I choose Southampton because of these reasons, because also coach told me,” he says.

“I know him and I know how he likes to play, and this was one of the reasons why I came here.

“It’s really a pleasure to work with him.

“He knows how it was as a player, and as a coach, he’s really good. He helps you with advice, he helps you with a lot of things.

“He knows me as a player. I play in Holland against him and he knows what kind of player I am, and he knows that he needs to give me freedom and that then I’m going to give him points – me and the whole team, that we’re going to play good together.

“I really enjoy to play in Southampton and everything is really nice until now and I hope it is going to be better and better, and I really enjoy to play here.”

As well as his new team, Tadic has also found it easy to settle into another country and city, along with his wife and young child.

“It’s nice,” he says. “Everything is fine, it’s quiet and you have some nice restaurants. It’s quiet to walk, people are nice, everyone is good when they see you and it’s really nice to play here.

“I have a nice life, everything is fine, but for me the most important is that we have really nice training ground that I can work at every day.”

The only frustration, explains Tadic, is the visa restrictions that make it a hassle for his parents to come and visit.

“When I was in Holland, people could come whenever they want, but now it’s a little bit of a problem, because they need a visa, and then they need to wait a little bit longer, like one month and only this is problem,” he says.

Since becoming a Saints player, Tadic has, of course, been back to his homeland – for the now infamous Serbia v Albania Euro 2016 qualifying clash, which was abandoned after a brawl broke out when a drone carrying an Albanian flag flew into the stadium.

“It was a strange feeling, because we just wanted to play football and we wanted to show on the pitch who is the better, but I think they do those things on purpose because they don’t have so much quality and they want to stop the match on purpose,” Tadic recalls.

“We just want to play football and to show that we are a better team.

“I like to enjoy the football, I like to enjoy and to play football to win, but there was a little bit of tension, you know. But we need to forget that.

“We need to be just focused on the football and that is it.”

Tadic is certainly enjoying life at Saints, having helped fire them to second in the league and the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.

“It is a really nice start,” he says.

“I think nobody expected that we were going to be in second place.

“We believe in our qualities, but still it’s difficult – a lot of new players, a new coach and everything, but everyone adapts quickly and this is a plus for everyone.

“I think this can be a really good year for Southampton, but we just need to keep it going.

“What we always say: “The next game is the most important.”

“We look at every game like a small final and I think we just need to keep to play like that and that’s it – then everything is going to be fine.”

With Tadic in the team, you certainly feel that is going to be the case.