AS Monaco have secured their second signing of the summer transfer window by bringing in the talented Ismail Jakobs from FC Koln.
Another hot prospect from the Koln academy, Jakobs has arrived at Les Monegasques for a fee in the region of €6.5 million, which is a good deal for the man who’s recently won the U21 Euros with Germany.
Typically deployed as a left winger or a left wingback, but also capable of playing on the right, the 21 year-old will offer Niko Kovac plenty of tactical flexibility and give the squad some vital depth ahead of what will be a busy 2021/2022 campaign.
With news linking Fode Ballo-Toure with a switch to AC Milan, Jakobs appears destined to initially serve as a backup to Caio Henrique at left wingback. But as mentioned earlier, with Monaco set to play around 50 games this term, he’ll certainly get plenty of action.
Athletic, technical and physical, there’s no doubting the 21-year-old’s a shrewd addition to the squad, who has many of the ingredients needed to develop into a brilliant player.
A force to be reckoned with on the dribble, his sound touch and ball control give him a solid platform to inherit possession and drive upfield. So fast and well balanced, he relishes surging upfield into vacant spaces before hoping to commit defenders or looking to outfox them with a smart change of speed or direction, a slick feint or a hard-to-read shoulder drop.
Powerful and explosive, not only does he rapidly gain territory in transition sequences, but he also draws multiple markers to open passing lanes to find a free man ahead while disrupting the organisation of the opposition defence. The graphic below offers a fine depiction of this, where he lures three defenders before shifting the attack to the underloaded right.
Able to go round the outside or down the inside, this, in combination with how he uses many parts of his foot, adds to his danger and unpredictability. This aspect of his game helps him when he’s holding up the play with his back to goal too. Competent at maintaining possession under pressure and keeping opponents at bay, his low centre of gravity, use of his arms and strength in his core and lower body mean he buys himself time while waiting for a viable option before executing his actions. Getting his body between the ball and his opponent, plus holding his ground staunchly, opponents will often foul him, which can give his team a chance to reset or give them a set piece from a promising area.
His quick feet and proficiency with the ball at his feet transfers nicely into his passing, for he can impact proceedings in a variety of ways in this regard.
Good at engaging in fast link play out wide and in the half spaces, his crafty one touch passes and flicks connect play nicely and allow colleagues to receive possession in ideal forward facing postures. In addition, when he plays one-twos with a teammate, this importantly breathes life into passages while enabling him to get free of a marker and use his speed to receive with momentum to surge ahead.
Boasting a classy left foot and being a crisp ball striker helps him hit some dangerous crosses, cutbacks and through balls in behind. Able to accurately launch deliveries with power, loft and curve, there’s a lot to like about his efforts here.
It’s been notable how well he assesses his options and has a good awareness of viable targets prior to firing in his passes to oblige the runs of teammates too.
The German’s movement duly heightens his threat to put him in good positions to undertake his actions. Efficient at stretching the pitch due to his blistering runs in behind when playing as a winger or wingback, he will certainly give Monaco valuable width and depth going forward.
Timing his runs proficiently, how he peels off the back shoulder of his marker, exploits the blindside of markers and uses double movements to unbalance markers to gain separation all parlays to see him pose as a challenge for defenders to handle.
On top of spotting gaps to charge into on the overlap and able to put pressure on backlines horizontally and vertically, Jakobs’ underlapling infield runs are another positive, for they allow him to use his running power more centrally and add some variety to offensive sequences.
Improving all the time defensively, Jakobs has a good base to work with in this compartment due to his physicality and athleticism. Alert to runners dropping deep or in behind, he can either unbalance them with his strength or track them with his searing pace. His ability to cover the turf rapidly helps him support teammates if required or recover his own position if an opponent gets the jump on him.
Handy in 1v1s, his sharp reactions, acceleration, agility and powerful posture make the stocky Jakobs quite a difficult man to get by. The fact he’s forceful and commits fully to his interventions, plus counterpresses aggressively after possession is lost, amplifies his ball winning prowess even if he can be a touch overzealous at times.
When speaking on his arrival, Jakobs’ delight was evident about moving to Monaco, stating: “I am very proud to sign for AS Monaco, a prestigious club which is coming off a very good season, with the prospect of playing in the Champions League.
“I am very motivated for this new challenge, which I am taking on thanks to my work and my determination. I am looking forward to joining what is a quality squad, where I hope to learn, progress and also contribute all I can.”
Monaco sporting director, Paul Mitchell, was pleased to land the versatile youngster, with his comments offering an insight into why he was keen to bring him in. “Our aim is to add quality and the type of profiles which can challenge what is already a strong squad, while continuing to enhance the team’s dynamism and laying a foundation for consistent success over the seasons to come,” he explained.
“The signing of Ismail is part of this desire to add the types of players who can bring quality that will improve the squad. Ismail is able to play in several positions and has shown a maturity in his performances which is well above his age in a very demanding league as well as being a key part of a very successful German U21 national team. We welcome him.”
Clearly intent on stamping his mark with his new team, which is illustrated by his withdrawal from Germany’s Olympic team, seeing how Jakobs settles in will be fascinating.
Although he’s still quite raw and has plenty of room for improvement, the acquisition of Jakobs is certainly a fine piece of business both for the short and long term.
Working under the meticulous Kovac and in an environment that’s very conducive to player development, it makes sense why Jakobs chose Monaco in his quest to take his game to the next level.