In Focus: Monaco's £14.5million signing Boads well for the future
It may have been the ultimate heist of the summer.
With all of the attention going the way of dynamic Dutchman Donyell Malen, Monaco had a free run at signing fellow Eredivisie star Myron Boadu from AZ Alkmaar.
The Ligue 1 side nabbed the 20-year-old for £14.5million — almost half of what Borussia Dortmund paid to pry Malen away from PSV Eindhoven.
Ahead of their Champions League qualifier with Shakhtar Donetsk tonight, we explore just how big a coup the deal could prove to be.
An AZ original
Boadu joined the AZ academy in 2013 and worked his way through the ranks, playing in the reserve team that won the third division title during the 2016-17 campaign.
His form did not go unnoticed by the club’s hierarchy and the plan was to phase him into the first team the following season.
But a knee injury kept him out for almost the entirety of 2017-18 and he only featured in the final match of the campaign.
The clinical forward was the youngest player to score for AZ in the Eredivisie when he opened his account in August 2018.
But it was not long before he suffered yet another injury setback, with a broken ankle sidelining him a few months later.
Not to be deterred, Boadu returned with a point to prove, having seen the best part of two seasons stolen from him.
With the youngster as a starter, AZ finished second when the pandemic brought a premature end to 2019-20 and third last term, finishing just a point behind runners-up PSV.
An elite mentality
Boadu returned from two season-ending injuries to capture the attention of Europe’s elite.
But it was not just his goal return that caught the eye, it was the opposition he was doing it against.
Arne Slot, his former manager at AZ, heaped praise on the penalty box predator in late 2019 when links to Newcastle emerged.
He said: "I have gotten used to the fact that Boadu always scores in important matches, which gives me extra confidence."
The one-cap Dutch international scored against Feyenoord, PSV and Ajax during his first season as a starter at the AFAS Stadium.
Boadu scored 14 goals in 24 outings during 2019-20 and another 15 in 31 matches last term.
Just one of those 29 goals arrived from outside of the penalty area and eight came from inside the six-yard box. He has mastered the art of being in the right place at the right time.
For further context, Malen, BVB’s £27m summer signing, scored just one Eredivisie goal more than his compatriot across the last two seasons.
Of his 30, two arrived from outside of the penalty area while just six came from within six yards or closer.
Low volume, high return
What makes Boadu so intriguing is that, unlike so many other strikers across Europe, his goal return does not come from a high volume of shots.
Last season he scored 15 goals from just 45 shots in total and 24 on target — Monaco’s new frontman is unnervingly precise with his efforts and particularly frugal in front of goal.
Those numbers might not seem sustainable at first glance but Boadu is a remarkably composed finisher and has the ideal skill set for a striker.
Exactly what Monaco need
Monaco have pieced together a squad capable of challenging for the title.
There is a blend of experience — with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Wissam Ben Yedder and Kevin Volland — and the youthfulness of Aurelien Tchouameni, Benoit Badiashile, Willem Geubbels and Youssouf Fofana.
But they had lacked an out-and-out No9 to eventually succeed Ben Yedder as the main man up front, particualrly after Pietro Pellegri failed to push on following his big-money move from Genoa in 2018.
This is where Boadu comes into play as he can spearhead the Monaco attack, sandwiched between Krepin Diatta and Geubbels.
That trio have an average age of just 20 and can be the future at the Stade Louis II for many years to come.