“Lyon are pleased to announce that Corentin Tolisso has decided to stay with Lyon this season despite strong interest from Napoli,” a statement on the club’s their official website read in the summer.
The then 21-year-old looked to be minutes away from sealing a €37.5million transfer to the Serie A side, but conversations with friends and other players persuaded the youngster to make a U-turn, pledging his future to his boyhood club.
However, interest from fellow Italian side Juventus will tempt Tolisso with a move again this summer.
Juventus are offering €20m + Lemina to sign Correntin Tolisso. [GdS?] pic.twitter.com/RaIYiDrdrH
— Juventus News (@paulpogbom) March 9, 2017
This campaign, with early-season injuries to Alexandre Lacazette, Nabil Fekir and others, the France Under-21 international was asked to step up, and he didn’t disappoint.
When he broke through at OL, due to his versatility, he was asked to play in both full-back positions as well as his natural role in the midfield. This term he’s filled in as a No.10 playmaker and even led the line when they played away at Marseille.
Corentin Tolisso: Versatile and Brilliant
Regardless of where he starts on the pitch, he rarely disappoints, scoring six goals and adding three assists in the league.
Although Lacazette stole the show against Roma with his stunning effort from outside the box in the UEFA Europa League clash this week, perhaps the best goal of the night came from the 22-year-old.
Antoine Griezmann's sensational goal from last night. Absolutely no right to be shooting from there. pic.twitter.com/kOiqqinLPm
— Andrew Gibney (@Gibney_A) March 3, 2017
Two passes to the forward, all one-touch, and Tolisso was free on the edge of the box to fire the ball into the far corner.
He may have turned down a move to Italy last summer, but it might not be as easy at the end of this season. According to reports in Italy, Serie A champions Juventus were in the stands to watch the midfielder on Thursday, and would have been impressed with Tolisso’s display.
Since Paul Pogba’s £89million move to Manchester United last year, the Old Lady have struggled to recreate the impact the France international had on the team.
Add a New dimension to the Juventus Midfield
The Bianconeri are missing spark and unpredictability in the middle of the park without Pogba. Massimiliano Allegri has adapted his attack to suit Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuaín, but the tactical re-jig has affected the form of former Lyon star Miralem Pjanic — the Bosnian hasn’t managed a goal or an assist in any of his last eight appearances.
Juventus have continued to win, but it’s not been in the same convincing manner as they have over the past few campaigns.
Allegri’s formation recently has seen him play with two central midfielders behind the attacking quartet and Tolisso matches up superbly well against all of them, even showing that he could play with, or in place of, Pjanic.
The Frenchman has the same amount of shots and goals per 90 minutes as the Bosnian, he completes more passes, plus he wins more than double the amount of balls in the air and makes 1.5 clearances compared to Pjanic at 0.3 per 90.
Their numbers for successful dribbles and the amount of times they are dispossessed are roughly the same. As expected, Pjanic makes more key passes, but Tolisso completes more tackles.
Measures up to the competition
When you compare the numbers from the Lyon man with the current Juventus midfielders, not only does Tolisso match up extremely well against Pjanic in attack, he’s also ahead of Claudio Marchisio, Sami Khedira and Stefano Sturaro in his defensive contribution.
Still in the early days of his career, his leadership, intelligence and big-game mentality has impressed. But it’s his eye from a pass, from all over the pitch that is one of his big strengths.
Against AZ Alkmaar, after winning the ball on the halfway line, Tolisso takes no time to get the ball onto his left-foot — the ‘weaker’ of the two — and as you can see from the image below, the understanding he has with Lacazette sees the striker set off as soon as OL have possession.
Tolisso plays the perfect ball and his team-mate is able to score their second away goal of the night.
It was the same in the 2-0 loss to Saint-Etienne. Now that he has established himself and his attributes, the players around him know what to expect.
Once in possession, Sergi Darder makes a dangerous run in behind and, this time on his right-foot, Tolisso picks out the pass. Only a poor touch from the Spaniard stopped a goal-scoring opportunity.
Latter in the same game, Tolisso showed his finesse and touch, picking the ball up on the edge of the box.
Rachid Ghezzal makes the blindside run and the 22-year-old plays a perfectly weighted ball in behind; only a low save from Stephane Ruffier stopped Lyon getting back into the game.
More than just a passing threat
Able to create moments of magic from anywhere on the pitch, he’s shown a very keen eye for goal and can find the net with both feet and with his head.
An injury-time winner against Bordeaux back in 2014 saw Tolisso rising high to head in Lyon’s second goal to seal a 2-1 comeback, his first for the club.
A triple threat with the ball at his feet, he’s very good at arriving in the box at the right time too.
OL president Jean Michel Aulas will loathe to lose any of his home-grown players this summer. We already know that Lacazette is heading towards the door, but Tolisso’s excellent performances and growing reputation may make it very difficult to keep him at ParcOL beyond the current campaign.
“I am very attached to this club and I not feel like leaving at this stage,” he told the club’s website of his decision to stay last season. “I still have great things ahead of me with this club and look forward to having a great season.”
He’s had that great season, and if Juventus’ interest is real and they want to act, it may take an offer of over €38million to take the player who is contracted until 2020 to Turin.
Whether Tolisso suits the Italian club, or whether he is good enough, is not up for debate. Make no mistake, the 22-year-old is easily one of the best young midfielders in Europe and you can bet that Juve won’t be the only club readying a move this summer.