The 23-man short list for the FIFA World Player of the Year Award was announced yesterday. Here is a brief sentence about why each player was nominated:
Emmanuel Adebayor: The Togo front-man filled the gap left by Thierry Henry's departure admirably, scoring 30 goals in all competitions for Arsenal during the 2007/2008 season.
Sergio Aguero: The stocky Argentine made his mark as one of the rising stars of world football, leading Atletico Madrid into the Promised Land of Champions League football.
Andrei Arshavin: Arshavin exploded onto the scene at Euro 2008 with scintillating man of the match displays against Holland, leading Russia all the way to the semifinals.
Michael Ballack: Chelsea and Germany both came within one game of winning the Premier League and Euro 2008 respectively, and Ballack's renewed brilliance was a big reason why.
Gianluigi Buffon: The Juventus stopper helped the Bianconeri to third place in Serie A and into the Champions League in their first season back in the top flight.
Iker Casillas: Undoubtedly 2007/2008's best goalkeeper, "Saint Iker," was instrumental in the championship successes of both Real Madrid and Spain.
Deco: Despite languishing at Barcelona for the better part of last year, Deco returned in style for Portugal at Euro 2008 and now seems to be finding his feet at Chelsea.
Didier Drogba: EPL runners-up Chelsea's top scorer in the Champion's League last year, a Drogba brace against Liverpool at the Bridge sent the Blues to their first CL final.
Samuel Eto'o: Eto'o looked like exiting Camp Nou over the summer, but his goalscoring record speaks for itself and makes him an indispensable part of the Barcelona front-line.
Cesc Fabregas: Arsenal's crown jewel in midfield, 2007/2008 saw Fabregas assume the role of talisman for Arsenal and that of super-sub for 2008 European Champions Spain.
Steven Gerrard: Stevie G tallied 20 goals and 19 assists from midfield for the Reds while forming a dynamic duo with newcomer Fernando Torres.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Inter won their third successive Scudetto in 2007/2008 and their Swedish superstar's scoring was vital. He also impressed at Euro 2008 scoring twice.
Andres Iniesta: In a season full of disappointment for Barcelona, Iniesta was a bright spot, with his live-wire displays from midfield making him one of the Blaugrana's best.
Kaka: The reigning FIFA World Player of the Year, Kaka's injury-riddled 2007/2008 campaign still saw him finish the season as Milan's top scorer with 17 goals.
Frank Lampard: Despite playing his lowest number of games in a season since 1997, Lamps became the eighth Chelsea player to score a century and scored the match-winner against Liverpool in the CL semifinal and the equalizer against Man United in the final.
Lionel Messi: The mercurial maestro showed why he is considered the heir to Maradona's throne with a great 2007-2008 where he tallied 16 goals and 26 assists.
Franck Ribery: After costing Bayern Munich a club record $33 million, Ribery justified his hefty price tag by leading the Bavarian giants to a German Cup and Bundesliga double.
Cristiano Ronaldo: The odds-on favorite for the 2007/2008 award, the Portuguese wing wizard scored an extremely impressive 42 goals on the way to leading Manchester United to an historic Premier League and Champions League double.
John Terry: A heartbreaking penalty miss for Chelsea in Moscow takes away little from a season which saw John Terry captain the Blues to their first Champions League final.
Fernando Torres: A sensational season saw El Nino set the record as the most prolific newcomer to the Premier League with a 24-goal haul, and in June Torres scored the goal that gifted Spain their first major title in 44 years.
Ruud van Nistelrooy: The goal machine in Real Madrid's La Liga winning vehicle, Ruud scored 20 goals for Los Blancos while also playing a part in Holland's very impressive Euro 2008 where they handily beat both World Cup finalists Italy and France.
David Villa: David Villa's impressive season for both faltering Valencia and European champions Spain ignited a bidding firestorm this summer before he decided to stay at Valencia, who are currently top of the table in Spain after a dismal finish last year.
Xavi: Xavi was one of the cornerstones of Spain's Euro 2008 winning campaign where he was also named best player of the tournament by UEFA.
Keep in mind, folks, that I don't agree with all of the selections; I am merely stating why they were nominated.
If you have any thoughts on this short list, please make yourself heard on the comments section below.
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