What do you get when you cross Arturo Vidal with Bastian Schweinsteiger and throw in a healthy dose of Michael Ballack in his pomp, aside from some quite brilliant footballing alchemy? Corentin Tolisso, that’s what!

Much like the above-mentioned greats, Tolisso scores goals, wins tackles, picks out passes, uses both feet, poses an aerial threat and has a real engine. He has the big-game mentality to match, having already put in star turns in the UEFA Champions League and lifted the Bundesliga title in his debut season with Bayern Munich.

The France international may only be 23, but his evolution into the finished box-to-box midfield article is almost complete.

Watch: Corentin Tolisso won the March Goal of the Month with this worldie!

Since making his professional debut with Lyon in 2013, Tolisso has lined up on the right-hand side of defence, in a deep-lying role, as a No.10 and even as a second striker, despite being raised on a diet of a central midfielder. Happily, there has been no such experimentation following his summer 2017 move to Bayern, where he has lived up to his billing as the most natural heir to 31-year-old Vidal.

Armed with the full range of midfield attributes and equally adept in both penalty boxes, Tolisso produced six goals and four assists in 26 Bundesliga appearances (17 starts) last term. He averaged a goal or assist every 99 minutes in Bayern’s run to the semi-finals of the Champions League – most notably scoring a brace in the 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the group stage – and hit the mark with 90 percent of his attempted passes in all competitions.

“I just let him do his thing,” remarked retired Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes following Tolisso’s match-winning display against PSG last December. “He always plays well when called on. He runs hard, he’s aggressive and clinical in front of goal. He’s a huge talent with so many qualities. He’s going to be invaluable to Bayern.”

Tolisso (l.) played more than just a bit-part role in Bayern’s 2017/18 title romp. © gettyimages / Adam Pretty

Invaluable to club and invaluable to country. France coach Didier Deschamps has long been an admirer of Tolisso, handing him his senior international debut in May 2017 and taking him to the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia, where he has already clocked up 93 tournament minutes in games against Australia and Lionel Messi’s Argentina. The future of Bayern, unsurprisingly, is also the future of France.

So where will ‘Coco’ fit in under new Bayern boss Niko Kovac? The Frenchman’s work rate and perfectly timed runs from deep make him an ideal candidate for one of three probable central midfield roles in either a 3-5-2 or 4-3-3 formation. What’s more, he’s a team player, versatile and by no means the finished product: exactly the type of player Kovac likes to work with. Not that bolting down a regular starting berth is going to be any easier in his second season in the Bundesliga.

Summer signing Leon Goretzka, Javi Martinez, James Rodriguez, Sebastian Rudy, the returning Renato Sanches, Thiago and Vidal currently provide the competition in the centre of the park, but only Goretzka and Vidal offer the all-round qualities demanded of a No.8 and shared by Tolisso. It poses an intriguing selection headache for Bayern’s new tactician-in-chief: who best to bang the midfield drum as Ballack and Schweinsteiger did with such rhythmic finesse in times past?

*Translation: Proud to be selected for the final 23-man squad for the World Cup. Proud to play for my country. Come on Les Bleus!

Dynamic, a proven box-to-box midfielder at the highest level and an integral part of Bayern’s long-term plan as outlined by CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Tolisso is a leading candidate to pick up the baton. The club’s most expensive signing could yet become their most potent weapon, in the most tactically demanding position in football today.

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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