Yukinari Sugawara has been chosen as the Johan Cruijff Talent of the Month for January, based on individual player statistics and votes from football fans. This is the first talent of the month award for the 21-year-old Japanese player.
Sugawara is originally a right back, but AZ coach Pascal Jansen regularly uses him as a right winger. That decision paid off in the first game of the new football year as the Japanese player helped his team to victory (1-2) in Sittard. A week later, Sugawara stepped up as a right defender, but the team only managed to come away with a scoreless draw (0-0) against SC Cambuur.
His changing role is clearly reflected in the statistics. Only Eli Dasa (Vitesse) has had more successful crosses from open play (6) than Yukinari Sugawara (4) in January. In defence, he is the AZ player with the most successful tackles (5) and ball recaptures (19) in January.
Cheques for the CSR department and the Johan Cruyff Foundation
Besides the talent of the month award, the AZ player also received two cheques on behalf of the VriendenLoterij (Friends Lottery). One cheque for €2,500 went to AZ social projects and one for €5,000 went to a project of the Johan Cruyff Foundation. This money can be used to purchase sports equipment for children with physical disabilities in the Alkmaar area.
About the voting
The Eredivisie Player of the Month and Johan Cruijff Talent of the Month Awards are based on statistics (StatsPerform) and votes from football fans, cast via the KPN Man of the Match vote (ESPN). These elements also count towards the Eredivisie Player of the Year and Johan Cruijfff Talent of the Year Awards, which are presented in a live broadcast on ESPN at the end of the season 2021/22.
The Eredivisie Player of the Month vote is an initiative of the Eredivisie CV in collaboration with ESPN. The Johan Cruijff Talent of the Month is an initiative of the Eredivisie CV, ESPN, Johan Cruyff Foundation and VriendenLoterij.