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Why Netherlands wonderkid Boadu is the top striker at the U21 Euros

4:00 AM EDT 6/3/21
Myron Boadu Netherlands 2021
The 20-year-old's double against France saw the favourites eliminated in the quarter-finals, and now the AZ star has his eyes set on downing Germany

When France's team for their Under-21 European Championship quarter-final against Netherlands was announced, many fans on social media argued that it was strong enough to compete in this summer's senior version of the same tournament.

The fact that perhaps the most highly-rated teenage midfielder in the world, Eduardo Camavinga, could only make the bench was testament to the quality of the starting line-up.

And yet France won't be involved in Thursday's semi-finals in Slovenia and Hungary because of the goals of one man.

Myron Boadu's double on Monday secured a come-from-behind 2-1 win for Netherlands, with the AZ forward getting the better of France centre-backs Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate, a duo who will leave RB Leipzig for a combined €82.5 million (£71m/$101m) this summer.

It was a quality performance from Boadu – who only turned 20 in January – that confirmed what many who have been watching him in recent seasons already knew: this is a striker with all the potential to go right to the very top.

The Oranje have not won this competition since 2007, but with Boadu in this kind of form, there is a real possibility they can go all the way over the course of the next few days.

He is currently the joint-highest scorer in the tournament with four goals (level with Germany and Manchester City forward Lukas Nmecha), and has struck 11 times in as many appearances for the U21s.

His efforts against France showcased his goal-poaching abilities, as he first latched onto a weak shot from outside the area, turned quickly and fired past Illan Meslier with his left foot to cancel out Upamecano's opener.

Boadu's stoppage-time winner, meanwhile, saw him get on the end of Justin Kluivert's ball across the area, and though his finish was somewhat scuffed, he did enough to find the back of the net.

"These are the best goals to score," he said post-match. "I think everyone could see I didn't hit the ball for the 2-1 goal the best. It was a bit with my heel, but I couldn't do too much else either. This was the best thing to do, as the goalkeeper was already going the other way.

"I didn't really know what to do after that. It was all joy. I was shocked because the players kept coming [to celebrate]. I'm so glad we were able to do this as a team."

That sensation of being in the right place at the right time is nothing new for Boadu.

He has come into the U21 Euros off the back of a season that saw him score 15 goals in 31 Eredivisie games for AZ, making him the youngest player to score as many goals in a major European league in 2020-21.

It is also one more goal than he managed in the Dutch top flight last season, with that form having been enough to earn him a place on the 2020 NXGN list of the world's top 50 teenage footballers.

Only Erling Haaland (27) and Dusan Vlahovic (21) scored more league goals than Boadu this season among U21 players, but both are a year older than the AZ marksman.

It should not come as a surprise, then, that a transfer is expected this summer for the Amsterdam-born star.

AC Milan and Arsenal are just two of the clubs who have been linked with him in the past, with the Gunners having already tried to sign him once already back in 2016.

Now, though, he is likely to cost around €20m (£17m/$24.5m), with his contract in Alkmaar still having two years left to run on it. His agent, a certain Mino Raiola, is unlikely to be shy in ensuring it is known that his client will be worth every penny spent on him.

The U21 Euros, then, are set to be the last international showcase for Boadu before he makes the first big move of his career. There was a time, though, when it seemed he could be part of Netherlands' senior squad this summer.

Back in November 2019, Boadu marked his full international debut with a goal against Estonia, but since Ronald Koeman was replaced in the dugout by Frank de Boer, he has been overlooked, with more experienced heads favoured by the ex-Inter boss.

But if he can guide the Oranje past Germany in Thursday's semi-final and into Sunday's final, then the call back into the senior ranks – as well as a big-money transfer – will arrive in the coming months.