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Özil, Wenger Named to FIFA Top Award Shortlists

23 men are eligible to win the Ballon D'Or, and Mesut Özil is one of them. 10 men are eligible to win Coach of the Year, and Arsene Wenger's on that list.

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One of the 23 best players in the world (with another of the nominees).
One of the 23 best players in the world (with another of the nominees).
Mike Hewitt

If you needed further support that Mesut Özil is one of the top footballers in the world, look no further than FIFA's Ballon D'Or shortlist, naming the 23 players in contention for the trophy for the La Liga's world's best player. Lionel Messi has won four years in a row, even before the Ballon D'Or merged with the World Football Player of the Year award (just trust us on this). It's also been, of late, the official coronation of Cristiano Ronaldo as the second-best-player in the world (after winning in 2008), and a way to honor a Spanish national midfielder as Finalist #3 for an awards show that is typically an entertainingly jacked-up affair. Last year, Messi's tux got a lot of the attention.

The Arsenal site has an easier-to-read edition of the list of 23, which is full of German and Spanish nationals. The London media is not at all alarmed that not a single Englishman made the list. (Though, to be fair, the second-best Welsh player in the world did made the list.)

Arsene Wenger's also receiving notice as a Coach of the Year contender, one of only two current Premier League managers on that 10-man list. The award's only been in existence since 2010, and Iberian coaches have not only won each year, but have made the top three each year, save for Sir Alex Ferguson getting 2nd place in 2011 to Pep Guardiola. (Last year, Vicente del Bosque won for 4-6-0ing Spain to a Euro 2012 Championship.)

Soccer's version of the Oscars takes place in Zurich on January 13. Twitter Özil and Wenger up using the FIFA-suggested hashtag #BallondOr.