Mikel Arteta is reportedly keen on a do-it-all box-to-box midfielder. Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso can be that midfield piece that the Arsenal team requires.
The Arsenal midfield lacks balance, cohesion, and elite presence. While Mikel Arteta has a host of options available to him, none of them offer that game-dominating presence that elite teams require. No one in the present squad can control a game.
In essence, the team requires an all-encompassing, all-action, box-to-box midfielder. Someone who can link the entire team together, from back to front, breaking up play, progressing the ball with carries in possession and line-breaking passes, and even the penchant for scoring and creating goals.
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In his piece in which he states that Arsenal are keen to sign a central midfielder this summer and see the role as a key priority to address in the transfer window, Football.London’s James Benge describes the player as:
“It is a midfielder that can assert his will on opponents that Arsenal are lacking, one who can whip the ball off an opponent on the edge of his own box and then carry it up to the other end of the pitch in a few bounds.”
Essentially, then, it is a do-it-all central midfielder who can impact the game in every way, in and out of possession, in defence and attack, moving wide, driving forwards, tracking back, undertaking all of the roles that a number six, eight and ten must execute, all in one player. Of course, these players are very difficult to find, as Benge highlights, and given Arsenal’s restrictive budget, it is even more challenging. Nevertheless, in Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso, Arteta might have his all-encompassing midfielder.
Tolisso has struggled with injuries since signing with Bayern, failing to break into their starting XI as a result. But he emerged as a right-back and has excellent defensive skills as a result, has played right-wing, number 10, defensive midfield, and of course, as a box-to-box central midfielder.
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When playing for Lyon in 2015/16, he averaged 2.7 tackles per game, 2 interceptions per game, and 0.7 blocks per game. He scored five goals and added six assists in that season. The next year, this time pushed further up the pitch, Tolisso scored 14 goals in all competitions, leading Bayern to break the Bundesliga transfer record.
At Bayern, Tolisso has maintained a pass completion rate close to the 90% mark. In his first season, he scored six goals and added four assists in 1529 Bundesliga minutes, which is an excellent return for a central midfielder, while still averaging 1.3 tackles and 0.6 interceptions per game — considering Bayern dominate possession, those are still very active numbers.
Tolisso, of course, is not the perfect prospect. He is still proving his fitness following a cruciate ligament tear. He has not played regularly since his Lyon days and he will be 26 this summer. Can he rediscover that prior form that made him the hottest midfield prospect in world football? That is the massive question.
Nevertheless, given Arsenal’s need at the position, Arteta’s desire for an all-encompassing, game-dominating midfielder, and Tolisso’s ability to fulfil the role, he might be worth the risk. Because, given how difficult it is to find such a player, a risk might be the best the club get.