Around these parts, much of the Ballon d'Or-related discussion has been about who wasn't included compared to who was actually on the list. That's what happens when you job the best goalkeeper the world has to offer out of some much deserved recognition. So, good on you, FIFA, for being your usually whacky self once again.
But after the fumble that was the initial list of candidates, FIFA has now cut things down to 23. (I wonder if Leo Messi made the list!)
One of those 23 is Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, whose transfer status has been talked about more than his actual game over the last 12 months. Pogba, Juve's new No. 10, has now been included on the FIFA Ballon d'Or shortlist for a second consecutive year, although this season comes as less of a surprise than the first time around. People love them some Pogba these days. It's not a secret anymore.
Juventus manager Max Allegri, who achieved a couple of things during his first year with the club, is on the 10-man list for FIFA's Men's Football Manager of the Year award after leading Juve to the domestic double and the Champions League final last season. Yes, all of that happened last year. We can remember the past every now and then, you know. It's not a bad thing.
Here's the complete 23-man FIFA Ballon d'Or shortlist:
Sergio Aguero (Argentina/Manchester City)
Gareth Bale (Wales/Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid)
Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/VfL Wolfsburg/Manchester City)
Eden Hazard (Belgium/Chelsea)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden/Paris Saint-Germain)
Andres Iniesta (Spain/FC Barcelona)
Toni Kroos (Germany/Real Madrid)
Robert Lewandowski (Poland/FC Bayern Munich)
Javier Mascherano (Argentina/FC Barcelona)
Lionel Messi (Argentina/FC Barcelona)
Thomas Muller (Germany/FC Bayern Munich)
Manuel Neuer (Germany/FC Bayern Munich)
Neymar (Brazil/FC Barcelona)
Paul Pogba (France/Juventus)
Ivan Rakitic (Croatia/FC Barcelona)
Arjen Robben (Netherlands/FC Bayern Munich)
James Rodriguez (Colombia/Real Madrid)
Alexis Sanchez (Chile/Arsenal)
Luis Suarez (Uruguay/FC Barcelona)
Yaya Toure (Côte d'Ivoire/Manchester City)
Arturo Vidal (Chile/Juventus/FC Bayern Munich)
As you can see, there's a Pogba. Oh, and there's an Arturo Vidal! And no Italians. And a lot of Bayern Munich players. Some of these things are pretty easy to figure out. Like, you know, somebody from Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern winning the award because of course they will. Those "Messi, Ronaldo lead Ballon d'Or shortlist" headlines have pretty much been recycled for the last five or six years, so why stop now, right?
Here are the candidates on the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men's Football shortlist:
Massimiliano Allegri (Italy/Juventus)
Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Real Madrid)
Laurent Blanc (France/Paris Saint-Germain)
Unai Emery (Spain/Sevilla FC)
Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Bayern Munich)
Luis Enrique (Spain/FC Barcelona)
Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Chelsea)
Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina/Chilean national team)
Diego Simeone (Argentina/Atletico Madrid)
Arsene Wenger (France/Arsenal)
Considering the field each of them are up against, would you give Allegri or Pogba a better chance to win their respective award nominations? At this point, I'd probably lean to Mad Max given the fact that there's probably no way Pogba even sniffs the top five knowing how it will have a very heavy Barcelona/Cristiano Ronaldo/Bayern Munich influence. And as much as Pogba and his massive levels of talent might be a big-time contender for said award in the future, the current odds of the young Frenchman bringing the Ballon d'Or with him back to Turin probably aren't all that great.
But congrats to Paul. And congrats to Max. Being nominated for awards is a good thing no matter your chances of actually winning the damn thing are.