Ajax has signed Croatian Jakov Medic on €3M transfer from FC St. Pauli of 2. Bundesliga. He is a broad yet lanky 193 cm. In 29 starts in the league last season, he managed 4 goals as an aerial threat at center-back. Medic is signed through 2028 to play Eredivisie and European football, betting on himself to make a considerable step up in play at a crucial point in his career, as he turns 25 in September.
Physically, Medic utilizes his lengthy frame well in duels and to stride it out in transition recoveries. His pace is surprising for his size and his hustle to get back on defense maximizes that to the best of his ability. The Croatian center-back glides through the middle channel elegantly and his movement flipping his hips is smooth. Medic’s leaping ability is his greatest asset physically combined with his height to dominant aerially. This leads to dominant clearances from the box, a set piece threat (his goals), and protection of his own half from direct balls.
Defensively, he is reliable in duels. His aerial ability first, as previously noted, and then on the ground due to his consistent physicality and anticipation. Medic times his stand tackles well to avoid fouls for the most part. He will slide at times, but he prefers stand challenges more. In 1v1s, his fluid hips come into play and although not the most aggressive, he manages to keep his marker in front to force passes away or time a tackle. He also clears with his feet long with consistency outside of his dominant headed clearances.
When marking, Medic is attentive and uses his hands to track in the box. Runs from quicker players can catch him out, so he must work on that as his recovery pace is not to be relied on every time. Additionally, he shows that he is ready to cover for his full-back and plays anticipatory defense to be proactive with his actions. Before the attack reaches his half, his anticipation can aid him in stepping up from his line to engage in duels early to halt the fast break. If he over pursues in that action, his recovery pace and quick reactions get him back on track in time. Medic is not the most impressive defender and will have an off game every now and then due to some limitations, but he has the traits, such as awareness, to get the job done at this level.
In the buildup, Medic is an established distributor with both accuracy and range in breaking lines in the German second tier. He almost exclusively uses his right foot in doing so, but his vision to find passes to progress from his own half is impressive. He not only does this on the ground with controlled weight, but through the air, too, to switch play to the wing when needed. When distributing, Medic is calm on ball, but the high press can get to him and lead to interceptions. Therefore, his progressive play does a lot better when not facing pressure. The same goes for his progressive carrying, he is patient with it but when pressure comes his vision suffers and he tends to rush short lateral passes. Overall, Medic has the ability to be a key player building up from the back in Eredivisie but will have to prove himself at European level.
Medic enters Ajax projecting as a rotational center-back to provide competition for places. He is not quite the level to start week in and week out for the club. He does provide plenty of traits that fit the Ajax profile at right-sided center back. In his first match against Borussia Dortmund, he impressed with his reliable ball-playing ability and intensity/volume of defensive actions. In this promising start, Medic showed that he could adapt to a 4 at the back system from the 3 primarily used at St. Pauli in 2022/23. His front-footedness as an anticipatory defender and his progressive abilities on ball should make him a reliable spot starter for Ajax at the very least this season.
Expect Medic to compete for playing time early as Maurice Steijn begins to set his starting lineup. The Croatian is close to his ceiling already, but he fits the Ajax mold at center-back and provides needed depth at the position. Do not expect great heights from him although his profile is intriguing. Sven Mislintat has a unique find for his back line in Medic.