FORMER Saints man Dusan Tadic revealed he will always be grateful to how the club handled his departure.

The Serbian spent four years on the south coast before signing for Ajax last summer.

In his first season for the Dutch club, Tadic helped them to a Champions League semi-final and has scored a staggering 35 times in just 50 appearances.

Speaking to The Guardian, the ex-Saint said: “A lot of clubs were really interested but I said to Southampton that I only wanted to go to Ajax.

“Perhaps they wanted me to go to another club, but I was immediately clear. I said: ‘This is the only club that I want to go to.’

“I really appreciate that they let me follow my feeling because they probably would have received more money from other clubs.”

Ajax paid around £10m to secure Tadic’s services which, in this current market, seems like small change for such an influential player.

The club replaced him by bringing in winger Mohamed Elyounoussi, only for the Norwegian to join Celtic on loan a year after joining.

Tadic has previously spoken about how he grew tired of the lack of protection offered to attacking players in the Premier League.

He felt that the constant tackles were taking a toll on his body, although the 31-year-old still signed a new deal at St Mary’s.

Because of this, Tadic is happy admitting that it was the right time for him to leave when Ajax came in for him.

“I think I deserved to go where I wanted after what I did for the club in four years.

“Because before I eventually left I had lots of other chances to leave, but then I stayed and also signed a new contract.

“We were amazing – those were the best years of Southampton’s history. It’s very nice that I’ll be always part of that.”

After such a stellar season for Ajax, it was reported that he had attracted interest in China, with one club said to have offered £42m over three years.

However, Tadic revealed he has no intentions of leaving the Eredivisie outfit, having been a boyhood fan of the club.

“It was something crazy, yeah,” he said when questioned about the interest from Chinese club Dalian Yifang.

“You can just get crazy. I had a few times good offers from China, but you also need to listen to your heart.

“I think money is not everything; happiness is something you cannot buy. Inside I feel rich.”