The FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022 is a little over 4 months away which means for football fans, it's like there are two Christmasses this year. Clearly, we're all hoping it's a tournament of non-stop goalmouth action; high-scoring games featuring sensational strikes that live long in the memory. But who's likely to hit the back of the net more than anyone else?
In this FIFA Predictions article, we evaluate the chances of 10 players hoping to take home the Golden Boot. Read on for more FIFA predictions.
FIFA PREDICTIONS- likely World Cup top scorers #1: Harry Kane (England)
The England captain should be one of the first names mentioned when you're talking about likely World Cup Golden Boot winners. To start with, his team has every chance of going deep into the tournament in Qatar - England has reached the semi-finals in their last two major tournaments. And in 14 appearances at World Cup and European finals, the Tottenham striker has scored 10 goals.
Harry Kane's international scoring record stands at 50 goals in 73 games - he's just three strikes behind Wayne Rooney, who's currently the Three Lions' all-time leading marksman. Aged just 28, he has plenty of time on his side to overtake the former Man Utd player.
Another factor that makes Harry Kane a red-hot favorite for the Golden Boot is his relentless form at the club level. In 5 of his last 8 Premier League campaigns, the Spurs talisman has scored 20 goals or more. His average number of league goals per season over that same period is 22.5. And under head coach Antonio Conte, Harry Kane has looked sharper than ever.
England's Group B opponents - Iran, USA, and Wales - will need to bring their A-games to shut him out.
FIFA PREDICTIONS- likely World Cup top scorers #2: Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Now back at Internazionale after a torrid spell at his parent club, Chelsea, we should see a happier Romelu Lukaku turning out for Belgium by the time the World Cup comes around.
The former Manchester United striker netted just 8 times in 26 Premier League appearances for the Blues last season - a paltry return, given his whopping £90m transfer fee. But when he's fit and raring to go, Romelu Lukaku can be unplayable.
During his previous spell in Milan, the powerful center-forward scored 24 goals in 36 appearances to help the Nerazzuri win the Serie A title. As strong in the air as he is with the ball at his feet in sight of goal, Romelu Lukaku has all the attributes to give defenders nightmares. And his international record is superb.
As of June this year, he's Belgium's top scorer with 68 goals in 102 appearances - 11 of those strikes came at major tournaments, including 5 at World Cups.
Don't bet against him adding a significant number of goals to that total in Qatar.
FIFA PREDICTIONS- likely World Cup top scorers #3: Memphis Depay (Netherlands)
Memphis has come a long way since his unsuccessful stint at Manchester United between 2015 and 2017. Now plying his trade at Barcelona, the pacy forward has become an integral part of Louis van Gaal's Netherlands side - he's scored 21 goals in as many appearances since the start of 2021.
Under van Gaal, Memphis Depay tends to play in the center of a forward trio, with pacy pair Steven Berghuis and Steven Bergwijn on either side. It's a system that's effective - in June, the Netherlands beat neighbors Belgium 4-1 in the UEFA Nations League. Memphis Depay scored twice, while his striking buddies netted a goal each.
What's more, the former Lyon forward is a set-piece specialist; he's scored 13 goals from direct free kicks so far in his club career. And with Equador and Qatar among his side's World Cup group opponents - let's be honest, neither has a great tournament pedigree - you'd expect Memphis Depay to add to his international goal tally of 42 come November.
FIFA PREDICTIONS- likely World Cup top scorers #4: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Another of the most obvious candidates to end the World Cup as a Golden Boot winner is the mesmeric Messi. Unsurprisingly, he's way out in front when it comes to goals for Argentina; the former Barcelona ace has scored 86 in 162 appearances - 32 more than second place on the all-time list, Gabriel Batistuta.
And the current Argentina side is probably the best he's played in. Last year, Lionel Messi led the Albiceleste to their first Copa America since 1993 and finished joint-top scorer in the tournament with 4 goals. Then last month, he was named Man of The Match as Argentina beat Italy 3-0 in the 'Finalissima' (the match between the South American and European champions).
So while he's 35 years old, Lionel Messi is showing no signs of slowing down. And, given that this will probably be his last World Cup, you'd expect him to want to sign off with a bang.
FIFA PREDICTIONS- likely World Cup top scorers #5: Saido Mane (Senegal)
Saido Mane had quite the season in 2021-22. He was as prolific as ever for Liverpool, netting 23 goals in all competitions and helping the Reds win a League Cup and FA Cup double, as well as finishing runners-up in both the UEFA Champions League and Premier League.
But arguably his sweetest moment came in a Senegal shirt as he netted the winning spot-kick to beat Egypt 4-2 on penalties and clinch their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations. That showed how nerveless Saido Mane is in high-pressure situations - and there's likely to be a few more of those in this winter's World Cup.
Saido Mane has netted 33 goals in 91 appearances for the Lions of Teranga and is pretty much the embodiment of his nation's hopes at this year's tournament. It will be interesting to see how he fares over the next few months after making a summer transfer switch to Bayern Munich, but there's nothing to suggest that his form will take a dip. And if he arrives at the World Cup in good form, we could see plenty of goals from the hard-working marksman.
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