Bayern Munich: Corentin Tolisso should be a guaranteed starter for France

COLOGNE, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14: Corentin Tolisso of France salutes the fans following the international friendly match between Germany and France at RheinEnergieStadion on November 14, 2017 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14: Corentin Tolisso of France salutes the fans following the international friendly match between Germany and France at RheinEnergieStadion on November 14, 2017 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images) /

Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso should be a guaranteed starter for the French national team at this summer’s World Cup.

Corentin Tolisso became the most expensive signing in Bayern Munich’s history last summer when he joined the Bavarians from Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyon. Coco’s debut campaign in Bavaria was quite good, despite the club’s managerial switch a quarter of the way through the season.

If the Frenchman can be criticized for anything, it’s a lack of consistency. However, Tolisso grew more and more reliable as the season progressed and was even chosen by Jupp Heynckes over Javi Martinez in Bayern’s second leg quarter-final match against Real Madrid.

After a solid debut season with his new club, Corentin Tolisso could be in for a huge World Cup with his home nation, France. Starting him should be a no-brainer for Didier Deschamps.

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A perfect fit

France manager Didier Deschamps has most often deployed Les Bleus in a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1, playing only with two central midfielders. However, he has recently been experimenting with a three-man midfield in a 4-3-3, which France have used to great effect.

While Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante are all but guaranteed starters for two of those midfield spots, the potential third one still appears up for grabs. That’s where Coco comes in.

The 23-year-old lines up very well as a number 8 in a three-man midfield and is a great fit alongside his compatriots. While Kante is tasked with doing the majority of the defensive work and Paul Pogba given the freedom to roam forward at will, Tolisso would be responsible for playing a box-to-box role.

That just so happens to be the role best suited for his talents. Coco is an extremely versatile player, capable of doing many things from midfield. But his defending simply isn’t good enough for him to play in a deeper role, while he’s not quite technically skilled enough to play as a number 10.

However, his exceptional passing range, industrious work-rate, physical presence, fantastic ability to make perfectly timed late runs into the box and fine finishing make him an ideal number eight.

His only competitors for that midfield spot are veterans Blaise Matuidi and Steven N’Zonzi. Though both great players, neither offer the dynamism Tolisso brings to the table. They’re both far more fitting for deeper roles; Coco should have no problem securing his spot over the duo.

If Deschamps opts for a 4-3-3, Tolisso should be the no-brainer choice to play alongside Paul Pogba in front of N’Golo Kante. It worked wonderfully in France’s 3-1 win over Italy yesterday, so why fix what isn’t broken?

The next big thing

Corentin Tolisso is a midfield star waiting for another big breakthrough. If he’s given the playing time he has earned, this summer could very well be what pushes him to that next level and solidifies him as one of the best central midfielders in the game.

He ended the season with Bayern Munich in great form, which — if recent friendlies are anything to judge by — he’s carried with him into the French camp. Going into such a tournament feeling confident in your abilities can do wonders for a player.

Furthermore, he’s a big game player. As evidenced in Bayern’s 3-1 drumming of Paris Saint-Germain earlier this season, in which Tolisso scored two goals, the Frenchman steps up on the big occasion. His three goals and two assists in eight Champions League games this season left him with an average of one goal contribution every 99 minutes in Europe’s top competition. Those are fantastic numbers for any player, let alone a 23-year-old midfielder in his first season at a new club!

Each World Cup there is a certain group of players who rise up and give outstanding performances for their nation. Everything is lined up just right for Corentin Tolisso to be one of those players this summer.

With France’s star-studded line-up, nobody expects the young Bayern Munich midfielder to step up as one of their key players in the tournament. I truly believe, though, that he’ll do just that.

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France have the potential to go all the way this summer, but they’ll need to be at their best to do so. Being at your best means making the best use of your personnel. And for Didier Deschamps, that means making Corentin Tolisso a consistent starter in midfield.

The 23-year-old is just a step away from truly cementing himself as a top tier midfielder in Europe. There’s no better time or place for him to do that than with his nation in Russia at this summer’s World Cup.