The signing of Alexandre Lacazette for three seasons, at the beginning of June, was already a very nice move by Olympique Lyonnais. That of Corentin Tolisso for five years, formalized on Friday, almost looks like a miracle. A world champion, Champions League winner and five-time German champion has chosen to return to a private European Cup club next season.
The reality is not so simple, of course. We are talking about a midfielder who is coming out of a very difficult season, having missed almost 100 matches through injuries in five years spent in Bavaria. And from a club that is very dear to him, for having trained and revealed him at the highest level. But one thing is certain, at only 27 years old – 28 on August 3 – Tolisso could still claim much better. Much more prestigious, at least. The heart has spoken, one is tempted to think. It is even a reality, as for his friend Lacazette.
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Still, the ex-Arsenal striker, three years older, could perhaps not aim as high as his friend in the offseason, or at least not with a starting suit. And if they are linked – Lacazette having participated in the “lobbying” for the arrival of Tolisso – these two files are far from being perfectly similar. In the case of the midfielder, this is the reason that tipped the scales. Certainly more than feelings.
The right club so that I can find the France team
In any case, it was very clear during his press conference. Before talking about affect, OL DNA or a beautiful story, Tolisso has, without any pejorative connotation, above all talked about his own interests. “Why did I accept? The project appealed to me, I liked it right away. It’s something good for me, for a personal goal too, which is to go to the World Cup”he immediately assumed, before putting on a layer a little later.
“If I exchanged with Didier Deschamps? No. It’s what I thought was best for me, I talked about it a lot with my agents, my family. We really thought it was the best decision for me. I really think Olympique Lyonnais is the right club for me to get back to the France team and go to the World Cup this winter.”
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Several very rational arguments can justify this vision of OL as the shortest route to Les Bleus and Qatar. The first is due to his status in the selection: if he has not worn the tricolor jersey since Euro 2020 (played in the summer of 2021), “Coco” is particularly appreciated by Didier Deschamps, who also recalled these recently that the Champions League was no longer a sine qua non for joining Clairefontaine, even with players with a light CV and virgin experience in the France team. And that, the person concerned has necessarily noted.
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“I did an interview a few weeks ago where I said that I wanted to play in the Champions League. Maybe at first it was a priority, but then, thinking it over, I thought asked if playing the Champions League at any cost, in any club, was essential for me and my personal goals. And I said to myself no”, he developed in front of the journalists.
The ultimate priority is to chain the matches. In Lyon, no question will arise about his status as a holder, which is already indisputable. An OL which, if it is as ambitious and efficient on the pitch as it is on this transfer market, will play the leading roles in Ligue 1 next season.
In full possession of his means, Tolisso was a starter at Bayern Munich, and could therefore be in almost any club. In summary, and at the risk of repeating himself: he could aim for the gratin this summer. But with far fewer guarantees, of course. And after how long? Because in a relatively locked market so far, no top club had yet knocked on its door.
“It’s been six months since I’ve been free (to discuss, editor’s note), so it’s been a while since I could make a decision, he recalled. This year, I had a lot of holidays, six or seven weeks, I decided to cut completely for fifteen days and then prepare myself. I did a big month of preparation and it was important for me to resume when the clubs were going to resume, not mid-July or the end of July, because I was going to lose too much.
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“Coco” in its cocoon
Truncating his preparation, Tolisso could afford it even less than the others, he who has chained injuries in recent years. To be ready early, to afford a full pre-season, is to put all your chances on your side to avoid relapse. “It’s true that I had a lot of worrieshe acknowledged, before delivering his vision of this dark period. I really think it was more of a psychological, mental problem than a physical problem, for reasons that I’m not necessarily going to explain today. I think a lot of things played in my head last season that caused me to get injured so much.”
In the Rhône, the former Bavarian will find a cocoon he knows very well, with supporters who have multiplied messages of affection towards him for weeks. In other words, everything to move forward calmly from a mental point of view.
At 27, the person still has many good years ahead of him, far from having – if all goes well – signed his last big contract. But for the moment, there is no question of looking that far. Tolisso’s target is Qatar. His means is OL. “We’ll see if I was right or wrong”, he wondered at a press conference. The September list, the date of the next and last gathering of the Blues between now and the World Cup, will be a first element of the answer.
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