Scouting Report: Corentin Tolisso

Steffen Separator June 14, 2017

The 22-year-old is signed on for a base fee of approximately 41,5 + 6 million Euros from Olympique Lyon and signed a contract until 2022. We had a closer look at the young man over the last couple of days.

Der French market has become a core area of Bayern’s scouting over the last couple of years. Again and again, scouts from Munich were present in the last two years to find the true gems in the constantly growing pool of French top talents. Tolisso is anything but an insiders’ tip, as a constant fixture in Lyon’s starting eleven over the last three years. He’s been part of the club since 2007 and, as a player capable playing various positions, got into the squad as a right-back at first, but has been employed on all three positions in central midfield recently. Didier Deschamps already called the former Tricolore U-21s captain up for France’s national team. With Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté ahead of him, however, he still has a way to go until he becomes a regular starter there.

Partner, not playmaker

Standing at 5’9″, his athletic, forceful way of playing makes him look bigger than he is on the field. At the same time, his extensive moves that sometimes lead him out to the wings, as well, shouldn’t mislead anyone – Tolisso has great technique. There’s no pass he can’t play; a wide-out shift of play, a tiny pass through the eye of the needle at the penalty box, a stabilising cross pass, a vertical assist – all of them are part of Tolisso’s repertoire, and when there are several options available, he likes to go for the surprising, more complicated one. Surely, this is one of the reasons behind his not overly impressive passing rate of 83% in Ligue 1 and 80% in the Europa League. Generally speaking, he’s more of an all-rounder, not so much a specialist. He can shift play to the wings, but not on Alonso’s level, and pass in the box, but not with Thiago’s quality. He’s somewhere in between and with that makes for a midfield partner, rather than a stand-alone playmaker.

Last season, Tolisso played 65 passes per game in Lyon – more than any of his team-mates, which shows the young Frenchman’s willingness to take on responsibility. He lead Bruno Génésio’s team to fourth place in Ligue 1 and could only be stopped by Ajax Amsterdam in the Europa League’s semi-final. He drew attention to himself early on in the season, when he scored a header for the late 1-1 equaliser in the Champions League group-stage game against Juventus Turin. Even before that, he had been the most noticeable player on Lyon’s side with almost 100 touches on the ball and several good shots.

Generally speaking, he seems to be fairly dangerous in front of goal: in his three years as a regular starter, he was always involved in at least nine goals, even increasing that number to 13 in the season just gone. Tolisso likes to shoot from a distance (sometimes, more often than he should) and in doing so, proves he has a well-thought-through shooting technique that is reminiscent of Mario Götze in its execution. On top of that, he’s dangerous with headers.

Corentin Tolisso scored 14 goals in 2016/17.

He’s also happy with his back to goal. Receiving balls from the defensive line in the centre, he has a good sense of where the opponent is, and is capable of freeing himself even from sticky situations with beautiful turns. It’s also obvious that he often acts very deliberately, playing passes at the last possible moment to lure opposing players from their positions. Bastian Schweinsteiger had perfected this during his final phase in Munich. Tolisso’s biggest strength is in the transition from midfield to attack, when he creates space for himself with good movements and then carries the ball towards the penalty box with determined runs. The question, of course, is how often these situations will occur while playing with Bayern against usually defensively-oriented teams.

Not a complete player yet

It might sound contradictory, but it’s true: sometimes, Tolisso’s game suffers when he has too much influence. This leads him to become slightly sluggish and be content with safe, but hardly constructive passes. There’s also potential for improvement in his defensive work, where he relies too much on his force in duels and doesn’t have the best one-on-one technique. He’s also sometimes too clumsy when moving out of pressing situations. All of these are skills to work on and improve.

It’s not quite clear yet what this signing means for the rest of the team. Alonso’s retirement opened up one spot, but of course there were plenty of players vying for the midfield positions even before Tolisso. In Rudy, there already was another signing for central midfield. If anything, this now proves that Kimmich is intended to play as right-back next season, and rumours around Martínez’ return to midfield also seem to not be true. Whether this transfer will speed up a potential loan or even sale of Renato Sanches remains to be seen.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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