Corentin Tolisso, Lyon

Corentin Tolisso: 5 things on Lyon's returning World Cup winner

Corentin Tolisso: 5 things on Lyon's returning World Cup winner

Publish on 07/04 at 14:26 - S. TELFORD


Corentin Tolisso has rejoined Olympique Lyonnais from Bayern Munich. A FIFA World Cup-winning midfielder with France in 2018, what else is there to know about Coco?

Lyon mean business this summer, having already acquired Alexandre Lacazette from Arsenal, as well as promising defensive midfielder Johann Lepenant from SM Caen, with successive eighth-place finishes not something the club are likely to tolerate.


Tolisso has a glistening trophy cabinet - his World Cup win with France is sandwiched by five Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Champions League - and OL fans are rightly excited to have him home.

1) A Lyon academy graduate


Tolisso was born in Tarare, a commune northwest of Lyon, on 3 August 1994 to a family of Togolese extraction, and he took to football from a young age. At 11, he scored a hat-trick for his youth team Pays de l'Arbresle against Lyon, and two years later OL recruited him to their youth academy, where he was in the year below Samuel Umtiti and Nabil Fekir.


He made the journey from striker to midfielder whilst progressing through les Gones' age group teams, before making his senior debut in a 4-0 win over OGC Nice a week after his 19th birthday. The cameras may have missed that late cameo - Yoann Gourcuff had scored OL's fourth just as Tolisso entered the fray - but there was no overlooking his later contributions.


The next season, Tolisso was a regular starter, playing in every single Ligue 1 Uber Eats game as Lyon finished as runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain in 2014/15, a league finish they repeated the following campaign. He also captained OL to their first Derby du Rhône victory over AS Saint-Étienne at the new Groupama Stadium and helped them into the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League before leaving for Bayern in the summer of 2017.


Corentin Tolisso, Lyon


2) Born to play for Bayern?


Tolisso turned down a big-money move to Napoli the summer before he eventually left, but when Bayern came knocking with a transfer fee which was a record for both clubs at the time, everyone involved agreed it was best for Tolisso to try his hand at something new.


It took something special to separate Tolisso from his first club, but the player had also held a soft spot for the record Bundesliga champions since childhood, with pictures of him on the beach in a Bayern jersey soon circulating on social media.


"When I was little, it was already a club that meant something to me," Tolisso explained to French sports daily l'Equipe soon after the move. "There were French players there like Willy Sagnol and Bixente Lizarazu, there were big names."



3) A World Cup winner


Tolisso could have represented his father's native Togo, and les Éperviers then-coach Claude Le Roy publicly courted the player when he was still turning out for France's under-21 team in 2016. But Emmanuel Adebayor and Co. were ultimately disappointed, with Tolisso making his senior France debut against Spain in March 2017.


His decision was vindicated little more than a year later, with Tolisso a cornerstone of the France squad who lifted their nation's second World Cup with victory in Russia in 2018.


Tolisso featured in five of les Bleus' seven games, assisting Antoine Griezmann's second in the 2-0 quarter-final victory over Uruguay, and ended the final - a 4-2 win over Croatia - on the field alongside those fellow Lyon academy graduates Umtiti and Fekir.


Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Corentin Tolisso, France 


4) Jack of all trades, master of some


Tolisso's favourite position is in central midfield, and he is likely to line up alongside Maxence Caqueret as one half of a double pivot in Peter Bosz's preferred 4-2-3-1 system next term - especially with fellow two-time Lyon player Tanguy Ndombélé returning to parent club Tottenham Hotspur - but he is able to fill in almost anywhere.


A striker in his youth, Tolisso's first Lyon minutes were actually at right-back with the youngster deputising for the injured Mouhamadou Dabo in 2013. Previously an emergency left-back for France's under-21s, Tolisso later found himself lining up on the right of a front three for the seniors at UEFA Euro 2020.


Very much a central midfielder at Bayern, Tolisso retains his striker's eye for goal. He may have been restricted to less than 20 starts in his last three Bayern seasons having undergone ankle and knee surgeries in his time in Germany, but 21 goals and 15 assists at a rate of one every 174 minutes in his time there are not to be sniffed at.

5) A (humble) leader by example


As well as having World and European titles to his name, Tolisso has four career goals against PSG, two against Olympique de Marseille, and has scored in Germany's biggest fixture - Der Klassiker between Bayern and Borussia Dortmund. He also owns strikes against Juventus, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Roma on the continent.


None of the above has gone to his head, though.


"Respect, politeness and kindness, everything was there in this boy," revealed one of Tolisso's earliest coaches. "He wasn't a leader; he didn't make a sound. But on the pitch, everyone wanted to be like him."


Tolisso was the UNFP Citizen Player of the Year in 2019 for his involvement in two charities - Handicap Tous Mobilisés and Players For Society - and Lyon have regained a fine influence on and off the field.


>> TRANSFERS: Vitinha to PSG, Tolisso makes OL return


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