With less than a week until the World Cup kicks off, top level club football is winding down ahead of a six week break while the tournament takes place.
Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Fulham on Sunday afternoon was the last Premier League match until Boxing Day when fixtures return, just over a week after the World Cup final.
All eyes will now be on Qatar as the world’s best players descend on the Middle Eastern country for the showpiece event.
Supporters and pundits are divided on which team will emerge victorious on December 18, but there will also be fierce competition for the Golden Boot award.
Here, we take a look at five possible contenders for the award.
Harry Kane – England
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane won the top scorer award at the last World Cup, with his tally of six goals enough to make him the first Englishman since Gary Lineker in 1986 to win the accolade. Kane will once again captain The Three Lions and will lead the line for a side that are considered one of the favourites to win the entire tournament. The forward has scored a remarkable 51 goals in 75 matches for England since making his debut in 2015, and he will fancy his chances of adding to that total in their group games against Iran, USA and Wales.
Kylian Mbappe – France
23-year-old Mbappe made his mark on the 2018 World Cup, scoring in the final as France beat Croatia to lift the trophy in Russia. Mbappe has scored 28 goals and provided 21 assists for France, including four at the last World Cup, and will be spearheading Les Bleus’ attack alongside Karim Benzema. Mbappe has been in fine form at club level, too, scoring 19 goals and providing five assists in 20 games across all competitions so far this term. France are also considered by many to be joint-favourites for the trophy alongside Brazil, which could further increase Mbappe’s chances of lifting the Golden Boot.
Lionel Messi – Argentina
At 35-years-old, this is almost certain to be Lionel Messi’s final World Cup. The Argentine finally ended his international trophy drought by helping his country to the Copa America title last year, and he will now be hoping to go one better and conquer the world with Argentina. Messi has scored a remarkable 90 goals in 164 international games to date, including six at World Cups. Like PSG teammate Mbappe, he has also started the season in sensational form at club level, scoring 12 goals and providing 14 assists in 19 games across all competitions.
Neymar – Brazil
Neymar, the third member of PSG’s record-breaking front three, has also been in sensational form in the early months of the season. The Brazilian has scored 15 times in 20 matches across all competitions, as well as registering 12 assists for the French league leaders. The 30-year-old also boasts a remarkable record for his country, having netted 75 times in 121 games since making his debut in 2010. At the last World Cup, Neymar scored twice, and he will be hoping to improve on that tally this time around.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal
Like Messi, this is also almost certain to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final World Cup, or possibly even his final international tournament. The 37-year-old holds the record for the most international goals of all time, having scored 117 goals in 191 matches for Portugal. In Russia, the former Real Madrid forward netted a superb hat-trick as Portugal battled to a 3-3 draw against Spain in a thrilling encounter. This time around, Ronaldo is arguably surrounded by a superior team to the one that he has had previously, although he has scored in just one of his last nine international games.