Arsenal ace on 23-man Ballon d'Or shortlist - reports

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Arsenal playmaker Mesut Özil is one of the 23 players on the initial shortlist for this year's Ballon d'Or award, according to reports in Spain.

The £42.4m summer signing has been superb since joining the Gunners from Real Madrid on transfer deadline day. He scored his first Arsenal goal in the 2-0 win over Napoli on Tuesday night, and the 24-year-old is believed to be on the provisional list put together by FIFA at a meeting in Switzerland this week.

That list reported by Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, and which is also thought include Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero and Sergio Ramos, will be scrutinised by France Football.

Manchester City's Yaya Toure is also thought to be on the shortlist for the prize that last year was won by Barcelona maestro Lionel Messi.

And the Catalan giants are likely to boast the most nominations for the world's most prestigious individual football award again this year.

Along with Messi, the likes of Neymar, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué, Cesc Fàbregas, Dani Alves, Xavi, Jordi Alba and Javier Mascherano are all reportedly under consideration as well.

Matthias Sammer, playing for Borussia Dortmund at the time, was the last German player to win the Ballon d'Or. He did so in 1996.

But, up against the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, few would give Özil too much hope of winning the award this year despite his stellar start at the Emirates Stadium.

In fact, Messi has won the award in each of the last four years, and is among the favourites to scoop a fifth this term.

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