Myron Boadu: The Dutch Striker Caught at a Crossroads

The 2019/20 season would see various young attackers burst onto the scene and make a real name for themselves in European football. From Erling Haaland to Gabriel Martinelli, from Rafael Leão to Alexander Isak, many of those players have gone on to assert themselves as the best forwards in football. However, one player who hasn’t been able to build on the momentum is Myron Boadu.


The son of Ghanaian immigrants, Boadu debuted for AZ’s reserve side at 15 years old and took just 23 minutes to grab his debut goal. AZ’s B team would go on to win the Tweede Divisie, earning promotion to the Dutch second division, as Boadu chipped in 13 goals that season. It would have been natural, then, for Boadu to put the cherry on top to an impressive season by showcasing his talent against international competition in that summer’s U-17 Euros. Fate, however, would have other ideas.



After coming on for Vitesse’s Thomas Buitink in Holland’s first match of the tournament, Boadu’s tournament would come to an end after just 28 minutes on the pitch. In a desperate attempt to prevent a goal kick, Boadu landed heavily on his left foot and tore his meniscus. He would have to wait another year to return to football. Following a year of rehabilitation, Boadu debuted for AZ’s first team in the final week of the 2017/18 season. He took the ensuing summer to shake off the cobwebs and prepare for what could, finally, be his breakout season.


Boadu became the youngest goalscorer in AZ’s history when he scored against NAC Breda on August 12, 2018, and grabbed his second goal a week later against Emmen. In his first 11 appearances, Boadu racked up three goals and two assists, turning him into one of the hottest emerging talents in the Eredivisie. However, in another cruel twist of fate, Boadu suffered a nightmare injury against Feyenoord following a horror tackle from Eric Botteghin. Once again, he was forced to bid farewell to another season when it was just beginning.


Players with Boadu’s never-say die mentality, though, don’t allow injuries to define them, no matter how long-lasting and gruesome those setbacks may be. Slot, who had served as ex-coach John van den Brom’s assistant for the prior two years before being hired as manager, gave Boadu an early vote of confidence when he oversaw the departures of Björn Johnsen, Mats Seuntjens and Ondrej Mihalik, without signing any strikers to replace them. Boadu, fresh off his second long-term injury in as many years, would be expected to carry the load in attack.


AZ reinforced their trust in their burgeoning center forward on July 19 when they gave him a contract extension until 2023. It didn’t take long for Boadu to start repaying their trust. In a must-win Europa League qualifier against Swedish side BK Häcken, Boadu grabbed the opening goal and two assists, and showed signs of developing a promising attacking trio alongside Stengs and Oussama Idrissi.


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He scored on his international debut against Estonia, becoming the first player born in the 21st Century to score for the Netherlands. Since finding the back of the net in a 5-0 win on November 19, 2019, the Amsterdam native hasn’t made a single appearance for the Oranje.


When the 2019/20 Eredivisie campaign drew to a premature close following the COVID-19 pandemic, AZ found themselves going the distance with Ajax and battling it out for the league title. Boadu played a vital role in their Cinderella story, racking up 20 goals and 13 assists in 39 appearances across all competitions. He led the line in Arne Slot’s 4-2-3-1 and was yet another academy graduate like Calvin Stengs and Teun Koopmeiners and Owen Wijndal who helped lead them to a title chase.


AZ finished the 2019/20 season on 56 points after 25 matches, level on points with Ajax. They were denied progression to the Champions League group stage on account of having a lower goal differential than the Amsterdammers, heading to the Champions League qualifiers, where they beat Viktoria Plzeň 3-1 in extra time before falling to a 2-0 defeat to Dynamo Kyiv.


Despite having to play an hour away from home at The Hague after their stadium’s roof collapsed in mid-August, AZ would push Ajax for the title only to be cruelly denied a chance to win their first championship in 11 years. The following season would see Slot receive his marching orders in December after rumors emerged that he was negotiating to become the new manager of Feyenoord for the 2021/22 campaign.


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AZ replaced him with Pascal Jansen, who guided them to a comfortable third-place finish, one point behind runners-up PSV and 17 behind Ajax, missing out on a spot in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League by the slimmest of margins. As a result, the Cheeseheads found themselves with no other choice but to sell the bulk of their spine including Dutch midfielder Teun Koopmeiners, who joined Atalanta for €14 million, as well as his compatriot and starting goalkeeper Marco Bizot, who made the move to Ligue 1 side Brest for €4 million.


Calvin Stengs joined Nice for €15 million, whilst Myron Boadu headed to the other side of the French Riviera after a 15-goal campaign with AZ, joining Monaco for €17 million. Despite missing the first two months of the year with a hamstring injury, Boadu racked up 6 goals and 2 assists in 42 appearances across all competitions — three of those goals coming after the start of April. Things boded well for the young forward after a difficult start to life in France, with Boadu admitting in a GFFN interview:


“For me, it was the first time going abroad and of course to a stronger league, so that was…a little bit difficult. I expected it, but on the other hand, I also expected that I’d be scoring goals every game, like in Holland. So at the beginning that was a difficult thing to manage. I saw a difference in the style of play. Most of the teams play against us with five defenders and in the Eredivisie, even the clubs that are playing to avoid relegation are playing a 4-3-3, attacking football.


That is the main difference, as well as the physicality. It’s not normal; all of the defenders here are so strong, and I consider myself a strong guy. That’s what really stands out for me. I had to adapt, it was finding out the right schedule to also work on my physique. It was also good to replicate in training what I would expect in a game, with Axel Disasi (24), Benoît Badiashile (21) and Aurélien Tchouaméni (22). Those kinds of guys are super strong, so in that way, it allowed me to adapt to Ligue 1’s style of play.”


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The momentum was short-lived: Boadu missed the first month of the 2022/23 season with a foot injury, but after being an unused substitute for two matches in a row, he would make his return on October 9, scoring immediately after coming off the bench and securing a 2-0 win vs. Montpellier. However, he was unable to churn this into a consistent run of form in Ligue 1 and found himself on the outside looking in amidst a turbulent campaign that would see them go through two managers — Niko Kovač and Philippe Clement.


Boadu scored 3 goals in 12 Ligue 1 appearances and appeared in four Europa League fixtures, opening the following campaign by coming off the bench in the final minutes of Monaco’s 4-2 win vs. Clermont Foot. After riding the bench for their second match, he was brought on in the 85th minute and rewarded the manager’s trust within seconds of coming on. With Youssouf Fofana’s header careening off the post, Boadu made no mistake and volleyed it in from close range, as Monaco fought their way back from a two-goal deficit and secured a 3-3 draw at Nantes.


Once again, it was a false dawn. Boadu failed to find the back of the net in his next eight matches, missing a month with a muscle injury, and after dropping down the pecking order of new manager Adi Hütter, he made the decision to depart France in the January transfer window, returning to the Netherlands and joining Twente on loan for the rest of the season.


He made his debut on February 3, replacing goal-scorer Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Within seconds of coming off the bench, he timed his run to perfection and latched onto a perfect through ball, nutmegging the onrushing goalkeeper before taking a second to find his bearings and allow it to bounce around his body, before slotting into an empty net and putting the seal on a 3-0 win vs. RKC Waalwijk.


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The Dutch striker would continue his supersub heroics on March 9, doubling the lead in the 77th minute shortly after replacing Sem Steijn as Twente prevailed with a 3-0 victory vs. Sparta Rotterdam, before closing out the month with a starting appearance in the derby against Heracles Almelo. Once again, he came up clutch in the 54th minute, leaning back and firing a rocket of a shot into the bottom right corner and snatching a 1-0 victory.


This match would also see him succumb to a muscular injury, the Dutchman missing the next three fixtures. With four matches left, Boadu will be looking to get back to full fitness as soon as possible and get the most out of his loan spell at Twente, who sit 12 points behind Feyenoord, five above AZ Alkmaar, 12 above Ajax and 13 above NEC.


Boadu’s contract at Monaco is set to expire in 2026, and with the likes of Folarin Balogun, Eliesse Ben Seghir, Maghnes Akliouche, Takumi Minamino ahead of him in the rotation, it seems likely that Boadu will part ways on a permanent basis after an injury-plagued and ultimately unconvincing spell in the French top-flight.


He has never quite been able to justify the €17 million outlay, but at 23, there’s still more than enough time for him to showcase the talent that saw him spearhead AZ Alkmaar’s title charge, earn a Netherlands call-up, and emerge as one of the finest young center forwards in Europe.


That is, if his body lets him.


By: Zach Lowy / @ZachLowy

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Getty Images