Boasting an impressive 14 goals in just 23 Eredivisie appearances this season for AZ Alkmaar, 19-year-old striker Myron Boadu is one of the highest-rated prospects in the Netherlands. Throughout the current season, Alkmaar have found themselves not only in contention for Champions League qualification but in a title race with Dutch giants, Ajax. Boadu’s contribution to this cannot be overlooked, with the youngster netting in 12 of Alkmaar’s 18 league wins. This report will analyse Boadu’s performance in Alkmaar’s 2-1 victory away at Heerenveen in January 2020, with a tactical analysis of his role in the Alkmaar set up. This will be paired alongside an assessment of his statistical record for the 2019/20 season.
Throughout this season, Myron Boadu has primarily operated as a central striker, often as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. However, instances have occurred where he has played as Alkmaar’s central attacking midfielder, left attacking midfielder or left-winger, highlighting his ability to be adaptable and still perform effectively. In this match against Heerenveen, he played as the central striker. This role saw him act as the focal point of many of Alkmaar’s attacks, with Boadu either hanging on the shoulder of the last centre-back or closest full-back before making a run in behind. However, there was the occasional action of dropping a little deeper to receive the ball before passing the ball out wide.
As a striker who is also a competent winger when needed, Boadu has a natural gift of pace, allowing him to pick a late but decisive moment in an attacking phase to burst and make his run into space. As previously mentioned, the Dutchman finds great success by using this talent and waiting right on the shoulder of the last and deepest defender, sprinting into the unmarked space once a teammate is set to make a pass. As seen in the Heerenveen fixture, while this run is a trademark move of Boadu, it doesn’t always get noticed – but this opens space for a teammate to exploit, as a defender is sure to have followed Boadu’s run.
The image above shows his good timing of a run along with his pace. As the ball is travelling to his teammate Calvin Stengs, he has his back to Boadu, but the pair seemingly have a strong understanding as Boadu’s reaction move is to burst into the space behind the defender closing Stengs down. These types of movements and uses of pace allow Alkmaar to quickly turn possession phases into full attacks – an element of play that fits in perfectly with their style of play. With three attacking midfielders (one central and one either side), Boadu has support and service arriving frequently. He also uses his pace to break free into channels on either side and bring teammates into play around the edge of the penalty area, though his final pass is a segment of his game that he needs to improve.
His ability to dribble past an opponent is a key part of his game and is a determinant in him filling other roles throughout the course of the season, not just the role of the striker. In 2019/20, the teenager has beaten an opponent with 61.1% of his 1-on-1 dribbles, most of which occur on the left hand-side of Alkmaar’s attacking half, or in the central area of the attacking half, as seen in the diagram below.
This type of consistent success is a staple in the youngster’s ever-growing game, showing an ability to win more of his individual dribbles than he loses. While the success is carried throughout the various competitions he participates in with AZ Alkmaar or the Netherlands national team, the focus on his domestic form is key. The graph below demonstrates all of the above, showing that in domestic competition, Boadu averages 2.8 1-v-1 dribbles per game, claiming success on 1.7 of them, with very little failure.
The above image is what Myron Boadu is all about and is a strong example of why he is one of the hottest prospects in European football at this moment in time. With the opposition defender jockeying at this side, one would think that Boadu’s next move would be to lay the ball off to his left to Stengs or play his central teammate the ball, in the hope that he can beat his marker. Instead, Boadu deploys an injection of pace to worry his marker, making him perform a desperate-looking slide tackle. This only gives Boadu more encouragement to continue and does so, dribbling around the challenge impressively and using his lightning pace to reach the edge of the box in mere seconds.
Highlights from this match, in particular, demonstrates his ability to dribble at speed to burst down the wing and play a pass to a support that arrives at the edge of the box, as well as a capability of moving the ball effectively in tight areas with the ball close to his feet. Both of these methods of dribbling are an important job of his role as a lone striker as they allow for a link in play between himself and the midfield unit as he is either receiving the ball from them to then dribble past an opponent into a dangerous area, or he’s dribbling past defenders at first to then link up with a midfield teammate. Both ways have resulted in an impressive number of goals for Alkmaar this season.
Despite his age and inexperience at the senior level, Myron Boadu has already established himself a prolific goalscorer in the penalty area, with 93.6% of his shots this season coming from a position within the box. His current accuracy rating for the season stands at 47.1%, meaning almost half of his shots on goal are on target – perhaps an area of his game to work upon considering the majority of his finishing happens from a relatively close range. One statistic that does stand in a positive light for the young striker is his conversation rate; in 2019/20 alone, 22.3% of his shot total results in a goal – a major contributing factor him reaching 14 goals in as little as 23 games.
The analysis above marks out Boadu, positioned with his back to goal in the opposition six-yard-box as his teammate delivers a corner. There is also a blue marked area – this zone is completely unoccupied by either team. The corner taker, to his credit, recognises the opportunity this presents and delivers the ball into that zone. Just before the corner is taken, Boadu drifts into that zone, and as the ball is bounced around the 6-yard-box, Boadu was impressively on-hand to twist and finish on the half-volley, a great example of his clinical finishing.
Throughout the season, he has shown a similar combination of sharpness and composure in critical moments, which has enabled him to reach the goal tally he has. It has been mentioned that the majority of his attacking and finishing takes place in close proximity to the goal, and there are 2 positive reasons behind this. The first is that Boadu clearly has a strong understanding of the type of striker he is when it comes to goalscoring, and that his best chance at finishing off chances comes in the box after build-up play. The second reason has a causal link with the first – Alkmaar’s style of attacking football results in a positive number of chances being created in the penalty area, with three attacking midfielders combining with one lone striker.
With Alkmaar the closest team to Ajax in terms of Eredivisie champions material, they have a striker at their disposal who has the potential, and the current attributes to help them push the Dutch giants the whole way to decide the fate of the title. At the face of it, Boadu possesses raw technical talent with his finishing and dribbling, but also shows good game understanding with the timing of his runs, knowing that he will either receive the ball and create a dangerous chance for his team, or he will create space for a teammate to create a chance.
His performance against Heerenveen merited the goal he eventually got, which actually won his side all three points. Myron Boadu is definitely a player to keep a close eye on, and it would be very fair to say that AZ Alkmaar will have a tough fight on their hands to retain the talent when bigger clubs inevitably come knocking.