Our research reveals who to back for World Cup Golden Boot
Messi? Neymar? Griezmann? We provide the answer with analysis of the top scorers in the last 40 years of World Cups.
Back the big leagues
Recent winners of the World Cup Golden Boot have come from a select group of leagues, with all 11 dating back to 1978 coming from Europe’s big five of La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, the Bundesliga and the Premier League.
Nine of the last 11 top scorers played their club football in Spain, Italy or Germany, so those are the leagues to focus on when backing a winner this year.
As tempting as it is to have a punt on Harry Kane, Gabriel Jesus or Romelu Lukaku this summer, it’s best to steer clear of strikers from the Premier League.
Of the 11 players that have won or shared the award at the last 10 World Cups, just one played in England at the time: Gary Lineker, then at Everton, in 1986.
Pick a prime player
Thomas Muller - who is in the latest football betting to win the award this summer - won the 2010 Golden Boot at just 20, but is very much the exception to the rule in terms of his age at the last 10 World Cups.
Nine of the last 11 winners have been between the ages of 22 and 28, with Davor Suker, who top-scored for Croatia in 1998, the only player in his 30s to have scooped the award.
Emerging stars like Jesus and Kylian Mbappe are probably too young, then, to win it this time around.
It’s also wise to avoid older players who are just past their best, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.
Go for a familiar face
With age usually comes experience, and it’s important that a player has had a decent amount of exposure to international football in order to win the Golden Boot.
Eight of the last 11 Golden Boot winners had played at least 20 times for their country prior to the tournament in which they topped the scoring charts, with Muller the only exception from the past five winners.
Those eight players were also regular scorers for their national team, having all notched at least five international goals before the World Cup.
Muller proved that a player can come from relative obscurity into a starring role for their national team, but it doesn’t happen often.
Club goals are just as important as international ones when trying to forecast who’s going to win the Golden Boot.
Of the last 11 top scorers, 10 had at least 40 league goals to their name, and eight had netted double figures in the season prior to the World Cup.
So for Diego Costa, Olivier Giroud and 2014 winner Rodriguez – all of whom have been less-than-prolific this season – the chances of topping the scoring charts this summer are slim.
Profile of a winner
Of all the contenders for this summer’s Golden Boot, only one player fits all of the criteria: Antoine Griezmann.
The Frenchman is coming off a fine season for Atletico Madrid in which he scored 19 league goals, taking his career tally to 125.
He’s a fixture in the France team with 53 caps and 20 international goals, and has already top-scored at an international tournament, having won the Golden Boot at Euro 2016.
At 27, he’s in the right age bracket for a winner and looks an excellent bet at .
A few other players fall marginally short of fulfilling all the criteria.
Lionel Messi is only let down by the fact that he’s 30, but the fact that he heads the market means he is one to swerve. David Villa is the only favourite to have won or tied for the award since 1990.
Neymar also misses out because he doesn’t play his club football in Spain, Germany or Italy, but, given that 2014 winner James Rodriguez played in Ligue 1 for Monaco, the Brazilian is still worth a bet at .
Thomas Muller falls short on league goals, having bagged just eight this season for Bayern, and might not play up-front enough to have a chance, with Timo Werner the likely starter for Germany.
Finally, Robert Lewandowski also just misses out on age at the age of 29, but is also worth discounting as no player has gone on to win the Golden Boot after scoring the most of any player in World Cup qualifying.
It’s worth noting that the Pole was the top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying, too, but went on to net just one goal in the actual tournament.
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