Ismael Jakobs is still in the early stages of his Bundesliga career, but the future already looks bright for the Cologne native. - © DFL
Ismael Jakobs is still in the early stages of his Bundesliga career, but the future already looks bright for the Cologne native. - © DFL

Who is Ismail Jakobs: Cologne's NextGen star?

Ismail Jakobs has exploded onto the scene with Cologne, making the left wing spot his own as the Billy Goats galloped into the 2020/21 winter break with three successive wins, but what else is there to know about the December Rookie of the Month?

Ismail Jakobs

Age: 21
Position: Left-back/winger
Club: Cologne
Germany (2021 UEFA European Under-21 champion)

Key stats

Born in August 1999 in Cologne, Jakobs joined his hometown club in 2012 at the age of 13 having impressed at regional outfit BC Bliesheim. A natural athlete, Jakobs' progress through the Billy Goats' youth ranks has been swift. He made his debut for the U19s when he was still just 16, his two goals and six clean sheets in 20 league outings the return of a player who flitted between left-back and the wings with Noah Katterbach also breaking through.

Both were promoted to the first team at the start of the season under Achim Beierlorzer, and have continued to flourish despite the coach being replaced by Markus Gisdol in November. Jakobs' contribution has perhaps been the more headline-grabbing. Cologne put together a three-game winning run heading into the winter break with Jakobs starting on the left wing each time, and he opened his account for the club in the 4-2 win at Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 16.

Watch: Jakobs' star turn as Cologne beat Frankfurt

The stats behind the headlines have been just as impressive. Jakobs completed nearly 72 per cent of his passes despite lining up in the final third where a three-yard ball to a teammate under no pressure is a rarity, while he has won a one-on-one every seven minutes he featured for the Billy Goats.

In the summer of 2021, Jakobs helped Germany's Under-21s to the continental title in Hungary and Slovenia, featuring in five of their six games en route to beating Portugal in the final in Ljubljana.

Play a bit like: Achraf Hakimi

A full-back just as happy playing wide of a front three, who combines pace and power with a goal-threat? Jakobs bears more than just a passing resemblance to former Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan, and current Morocco star Achraf Hakimi.

The Paris Saint-Germain star, who retained his African Youth Player of the Year award in 2019 - may be right-footed, while Jakobs favours his left, but both are adept on their weaker side, making it very difficult for a defender to know whether they are going to race past on the outside and cross for a teammate, or cut inside to shoot themselves.

Jakobs (pictured) may be left-footed, Hakimi right, but the similarities between the two marauding full-back-turned-wingers is notable. - imago images

Did you know?

Jakobs may on the cusp of a meteoric rise in the game, with his December Bundesliga Rookie of the Month award likely to be the first of many accolades in his career, but he remains incredibly grounded. The winger is good friends with fellow Cologne academy graduate Noah Katterbach, but much of his social life takes place away from the sport and his father calls him on a daily basis. The thanks given to Jesus on his social media posts at regular intervals suggests the biblical verse tattooed on his chest runs more than just skin deep.

What they're saying

"I've got a lot of friends who have nothing to do with football. It's very important to have interests away from the game. I think it's a question of character whether somebody makes it or not." - Jakobs on his path into the game

"A lot of my friends are on the south curve [of the RheinEnergieStadion]. I think my whole family were there the first time I played. I had to get 25 tickets!" - Jakobs on his Bundesliga debut against Hoffenheim - a family affair!

"The young players sharpen the senses of the older ones. Of course, fresh blood has helped us, but a youngster can't work in the team if he's not well received by the senior players. But it's working perfectly." - former Cologne coach Markus Gisdol after Jakobs' goalscoring appearance in the winter friendly draw with Genk