Richard Mann runs through the chief contenders for the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup and considers a few runners at bigger prices.
History would suggest that five or six goals puts contenders firmly in the mix for the Golden Boot, but a key point worth considering when placing your bets is that only once in the history of the World Cup has the Golden Boot winner come from a side that didn't make it past the group stages.
It seems obvious, but you generally need a selection whose team is going to make it to the semi-finals stage or better.
Lionel Messi - 10/1
One of the greatest players to ever grace the game, Russia 2018 might be the most important international tournament of Messi's glittering career. Despite his incredible achievements with Barcelona, a World Cup winners' medal still eludes Argentina's all-time record goalscorer and given he is now approaching his 31st birthday, it isn't unrealistic to think that this could be Messi's final chance to add the greatest prize of all to his glittering CV. Following another stellar season in Spain, expect Messi to be fit, firing and more hungry than ever.
Neymar - 10/1
With Brazil strongly fancied in many quarters, it seems safe to assume that a deep run would see their star man, Neymar, amongst the goals. However, much of Brazil's build-up has centred around Neymar's recovery from a broken foot and whether he would even make Russia. Fear not, Neymar jumped off the bench to score a brilliant goal in a friendly against Croatia on Sunday and more importantly, looked sharp and ready for the battle again.
Antoine Griezmann - 12/1
Given the strong squad they send to Russia, France can be expected to enjoy a fruitful tournament and key to their chances will be Griezmann, their star man and main source of goals. Griezmann scored six times when leading France to the final of Euro 2016 and was in scintillating form for Atletico Madrid last season, scoring 19 times and providing nine assists. If France get on a roll, expect him to be competing for the Golden Boot.
Gabriel Jesus - 14/1
Another Brazilian and one who will be well known to football fans on these shores following his exploits for Manchester City. Having signed for City in August 2016, Jesus has quickly established himself as one of Pep Guardiola's trump cards, his 29 league appearances last season earning him 13 goals and helping his side dominate the Premier League from start to finish. Like Guardiola, Brazil coach Tite has placed a huge amount of faith in Jesus and was rewarded when he scored seven times in their qualifying campaign.
Harry Kane - 14/1
If England are to spring a surprise and win their first World Cup since 1966, it will surely need Harry Kane to emulate Sir Geoff Hurst and deliver a glut of goals for manager Gareth Southgate. Kane has seen even more responsibility placed on his broad shoulders with Southgate revealing that the Spurs man will lead out the Three Lions in the first game against Tunisia and with Panama to follow, England will surely enjoy a strong start. If they do, expect Kane to be among the goals and a good run from Southgate's men could see their skipper right at the top of the charts.
Timo Werner - 14/1
It wouldn't be a World Cup without Germany coming under the most serious consideration and in Werner, they have a goalscorer to mould their challenge around. With the likes of Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller pulling the strings, Werner will certainly get plenty of ammunition in the next few weeks and having enjoyed a stellar season with RB Leipzig - one which brought him 21 goals - he will arrive in Russia with big things expected of him. Should he win the Golden Boot, a move to the Premier League could well be on the cards.
Cristiano Ronaldo - 16/1
Ronaldo is probably priced up more on Portugal's expectations rather than his own incredible CV and goalscoring abilities. A five-time Ballon d'Or and four-time Champions League winner, Ronaldo comes into what might be his final World Cup having lifted the Euro 2016 trophy two years ago and recently become the highest goalscorer in World Cup qualifying and finals matches combined. As ever, his club form for Real Madrid has been outstanding and his 26 goals in La Liga last season were backed up with 15 in another successful Champions League campaign.
Robert Lewandowski - 33/1
33/1 about a goalscorer of Lewandowski's class certainly takes the eye, especially when you consider that the Poland hitman has now netted 52 times in international football. At 29-years-of-age, Lewandowski really is at the peak of his powers right now and 41 goals in all competitions last season is clear illustration of what he can do. On top of that, Lewandowski bagged 16 times in qualification and given how easily Poland progressed through those qualifiers they, and Lewandowski, are not to be underestimated.
Thomas Muller - 25/1
A big run from the current World Cup holders and number one ranked team in the world, Germany, seems inevitable and as already alluded to, that brings Werner into calculations. However, teammate Muller netted five times in qualifying and five times in Germany's successful World Cup campaign in Brazil, including a hat-trick in their opening game against Portugal. His club form remains strong and at 25/1, he could prove a touch of value.
Raheem Sterling - 100/1
Sterling has been making the headlines for non-football reasons in the last few days but on the field, things couldn't be going much better for the Manchester City man. Having played a pivotal role in City's Premier League success, Sterling is firmly established as one of Gareth Southgate's big hopes and much of his recent improvement can be credited to the excellent guidance offered by his club manager, Pep Guardiola. A return of 23 goals in all competitions last season indicates what a goalscoring threat Sterling has become and now close to the finished article, he could make 100/1 quotes look silly.
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