Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang makes the BBC shortlist for the second year in succession and it says everything about his form that he is the only one of the five candidates who was not at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.
He may have missed out on the game's greatest stage but Gabon's absence enabled its best footballer to benefit from an extended rest.
The previous season he had helped Borussia Dortmund to the runners-up spots in the Bundesliga and German Cup - beaten by Bayern Munich on both occasions - and to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by eventual champions Real Madrid.
After his maiden Bundesliga campaign delivered 13 goals, Aubameyang came out flying in the early part of the new season, heading home as Borussia beat Bayern 2-0 to win the season-opening German Supercup.
In what Aubameyang says is his best start to a campaign, his first four Bundesliga games resulted in three goals. Arguably more important was the improved Champions League form for the 25-year-old, who can play up front or on the flanks.
During his first season with Dortmund, he often languished on the bench for such big games but with opportunities freed up by striker Robert Lewandowski's move to Bayern and wideman Marco Reus's injury troubles, Aubameyang has seized his chance.
After scoring only once in nine Champions League games during his inaugural season in Germany, he started to silence any questions over his ability to step up in class with three goals in Dortmund's first three group games this season.
Born in France but having chosen to play for his father's homeland, the Gabonese Panther says his recent improved performances for Dortmund have come because he can now understand more German.
"Tactically, I wasn't able to do what (coach Jurgen Klopp) wanted last season because I didn't understand the language and it was a new world to me," he told the official Bundesliga website in early October.
Feeling fit and settled after his £13m move in July 2013, the former Saint Etienne man has finally become a permanent fixture in the 2013 Champions League runners-ups' starting 11.
AC Milan, who allowed the pacy and goal-hungry Aubameyang after he served his teenage years at the club, must be ruing their decision.
And internationally, the forward has kept Gabon in the hunt for a place at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals, after scoring twice in an important win over Burkina Faso in October.