Filip Djuricic always had faith he would one day make it to the Premier League.

It is six years now since Saints’ newest signing gave up on the opportunity to join Manchester United, trusting in himself that it was not the right career move at the time.

Djuricic, then 17, had impressed during a trial at Old Trafford, but work permit issues presented a complication to the Serbian teenager joining the club.

The midfielder explained that, in order to overcome the problem, United told him he could sign and be loaned out somewhere in Europe for a few seasons.

Yet Djuricic, a Red Star Belgrade product, was bold enough to pass on the offer and seek out a more stable situation, and the prospect of more regular football, elsewhere – all in the hope he would one day make it back to England.

He said: “I was in Israel with the under-17 national team and the chief of scouts in United watched me there and they sent an invitation to my club in Serbia, if I want to be their guest – ten days in United.

“I trained in the first-team. It was fantastic for me also – there was Rio Ferdinand, Vidic, Ronaldo, and I was training with them at the time.

“After these ten days, we sit at the table to speak.

“I had a lot of problems with the work permit in that time, and they said the best solution was to send me somewhere on loan for a couple of years – Belgium or somewhere – but when I sit with my family, and with my father, and we talk, then we decided if I have enough quality that I will come back one day.

“Maybe not in United, but in some other club, another way, because I need time to play, and I hope it will be the right decision.”

It turned out that it was, as Saints came calling for Djuricic in the final days of the January transfer window.

As an established international, there were no work permit problems this time, and Djuricic completed a loan move from Benfica for the rest of the season. With Saints possessing an option to buy him in the summer, the 23-year-old is hoping his stay will last longer than just a few months.

“My first goal here is to help the team to reach their goal, for Champions League,” said the attacking midfielder, who made his debut as a late sub in last week’s 0-0 draw with West Ham and is relishing the prospect of facing Liverpool on Sunday.

“After that it’s to show myself here and, of course, it’s my goal to stay here next year if it’s possible.”

Djuricic explained that the presence of Ronald Koeman, and the manager’s style of play, was the most important factor in why he chose to join Saints, but he also received some persuasion from his international, and now club, teammate Dusan Tadic.

“I spoke with him also before I came here and he told me only nice things, not only about the club, also about the city and about training facilities and so on,” said Djuricic. “Dusan also gave me some advice about football here and, after that, I decided to come.”

As well as his good friend, Djuricic also sees plenty of other familiar faces now, having played against the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Graziano Pelle and Maya Yoshida during three years in Holland, with Heerenveen, before his 2013 move to Benfica, which was followed by a loan switch to German club Mainz.

“Here I am seven days and I already feel better than I felt in the last two clubs, so it’s very nice,” said Djuricic, whose wife will also join him in England in the next few weeks.

Djuricic, whose ideal position is in the number ten role, joins a growing band of Serbians in the Premier League.

A skilful player, he was once dubbed by former Dutch international and Ajax scout Gerrie Muhren as ‘The Balkan Cruyff’, and says he learned his trade initially on the streets of his home country.

“I played football outside with the kids, and there is the place where you make your own character,” he said.

“I am from a small town next to Belgrade.

“It was really nice, because after school and before school we was always playing football outside.

“It’s not so good if you look at the facilities – the fields, the dressing rooms, or something else – but, still, we didn’t think about that things in that time.”

Djuricic revealed how he and the other Serbian stars in England’s top flight are now trying to improve the facilities back home, with he and Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic, who played in the same football school as him, funding artificial surfaces in their home cities.

Saints will be hoping his fine work on a pitch now extends to the grass at St Mary’s.

Djuricic is certainly intending for that to be the case.

“These three months, if I do it on the right way, it can be very good for me, but also for the club,” he said.