Marvellous Myron: Is AZ’s Boadu worth the hype from the top European clubs? – scout report
The AZ Alkmaar academy has proven to be one of the best academies in Europe lately and quite a few players have had the chance to play and impress in the first team. A name that came under the radar last year is Myron Boadu. The 20 year old striker had an outstanding season in 2019/20 and is now looking to repeat it after a slow start to this campaign.
He is one of AZ’s key weapons in attack and has scored 11 goals so far this season but it is their defensive performance that killed their chances to challenge PSV and Ajax for the title.
Despite being a centre forward, Boadu isn’t the typical target man winning air balls and staying only in the penalty area. His movement and pace are what brings explosiveness upfront and allows him to catch the opposition off guard.
AZ Alkmaar in attack and his role there
AZ are quite an attacking team that look to create many opportunities and convert them into goals, trying to control the game in the opposition half. With an impressively young and efficient attacking line, the team rely a lot on individual skills and pace. All of their current top goalscorers are under 24 years old which gives the team a lot of freshness and provides explosiveness in front of the goal.
Boadu fits well to their tactics being the second-best scorer with his 11 goals playing as a centre forward both in 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations. His link-up-play abilities combined with his pace are impressive, making him a successful direct threat and a great passing option whenever the team want to finish their attacks.
His team rely on counter-attacking quite frequently and his off the ball movement and flair help him in finding the best position for taking advantage of these opportunities. The team heavily rely on attacking down the wings and crossing, producing 13.6 shots per 90 on average. Boadu is often being the target of these crosses looking to finish the attacks, although both wingers do tend to cut inside and provide a direct threat.
Boadu moves around the opposition half and doesn’t limit his actions only to the box. He tends to help in opening the passing lanes in ball progression.
Despite having such talented young players up front the team doesn’t only rely on their efforts from open play. They do take advantage of their set-pieces, having scored nine goals from set-plays so far this season. Due to the team very attack-oriented their opponents often play aggressively against them and they get fouled resulting in many penalty spot opportunities.
Movement, pace and awareness
As mentioned, one of Boadu’s main attributes is his off the ball movement. He wouldn’t only stay in and around the box but would also drop deeper to support the team’s build-up efforts with one-touch passes before he starts his movement to a more dangerous position. That link-up-play ability helps the team in ball progression and quickly delivers the ball to goal scoring positions.
His pass accuracy is relatively high for a striker and while he doesn’t contribute with a lot of passing he is a quite important part of the attacking combinations in the final third.
He likes to stroll between the opposite defenders and drag them out of position with his movement. This gives his teammates better opportunities to enter the box with the ball and threaten the goal.
His pace allows him to make late runs to the box, catching his markers off guard and outrunning them, moving to the perfect goal scoring position. His off-shoulder movement allows him to exploit the tiniest spaces in the penalty area and underlines his strong spatial awareness.
His partnership with the wingers is very good too thanks to his awareness. Whenever they attack through the flanks, he matches their movement and moves in and around the box so he can receive crosses.
His positional awareness is very important for the team’s successful counter-attacking efforts. AZ execute 4.36 counter-attacks on average per game and Boadu is a key figure when it comes to finishing them. Not only because of his great finishing but also his offside awareness. He intelligently manages to avoid offsides and allows the team more chances on the goal.
Attacking flair and confidence
Apart from his intelligent movement, what makes Boadu such an efficient striker is his flair and confidence on the ball. He is capable of escaping his markers in a split-second and in scoring goals with one touch. This does increase AZ’s explosiveness in front of the goal and allows them to quickly transfer their attacks into goals.
He doesn’t only rely on his positioning, though. He is also comfortable dribbling and taking on his opponents until he reaches a better position to shoot or pass. His confidence in 1vs1 situations gives him a huge advantage in the final third. His work under pressure helps the team to execute their attacking strategy well despite the often staggered defensive structures.
His shot frequency has decreased compared to last season, but what makes him consistent in his performance is his accuracy of more than 50% shots on target. That’s why he doesn’t usually need many efforts to reach the wanted results and why his lower shot frequency doesn’t affect his performance immensely.
Part of his success lays in his ability to play with both feet. He is described as a right-footed striker but his goals this season have been scored predominantly with his left foot making him even more unpredictable for the opposition.
With his 11 goals in 21 games so far this term, he outperforms his xG of 8.86 despite his slow start of the season. From his U17 AZ displays until now he has scored 48 goals and assisted 19 more in 106 games.
Although this hasn’t been a frequent event this campaign, the 20-year-old would always set his teammates up with a nice through ball whenever an opportunity arises.
Press and defensive contribution
The team collectively put efforts into pressing high and the attacking trio have their responsibilities too. They do press the opposite defenders trying to trouble their build-up and recover the ball. Despite his almost non-existent defensive responsibilities, Boadu does contribute to ball recovery, trying to force his opponents into individual errors.
Despite his centre attacking position he rarely contributes with aerials duels. His height of 1.81 m also doesn’t add to having a successful aerial presence and that’s one of the reasons he is not a usual target man who can receive long balls over the top.
His defensive contribution doesn’t go any further than that and the team often struggle in keeping the opposition away from the goal. Despite being quite successful in their ball recovery they do have some struggles with their keeping their defensive structure tight.
It is impressive that despite suffering two major injury blows early in his professional career Boadu still managed to perform that well. Despite being sidelined for huge periods of time and against all odds he came back stronger and helped the team in their title hopes last year.
As our analysis showed, his intelligent movement and finishing ability (with both feet) are worth the attention and combined with his confidence and resistance he could be a great addition to any team where he can build a nice partnership with his teammates. Having creative players who can supply him with quality balls is very important for his successful performance and he could become one of the greatest young strikers if he is being used in the right set-up and according to his strengths.