As we move closer to the World Cup kicking off in Qatar, we take a look at who could come away with the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament.
Crowned a world champion in Russia four years ago after a sensational breakthrough tournament where he notched four goals, Kylian Mbappe will be striving for further success in Qatar this time around.
At this stage widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, the PSG star will go to the World Cup full of confidence as the joint-top scorer in both Ligue 1 and the .
With some stellar attacking talent in ’s ranks to help supply Mbappe, such as Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, the Parisian should be provided with ample service to shine brightly at the World Cup.
This year’s recipient of the Ballon d’Or as the star man in a side who secured both La Liga and Champions League glory last season, Karim Benzema will be striving to cap off a magnificent 2022 with the biggest trophy of all in Qatar.
Primed to lead France’s attack at the World Cup, with Kylian Mbappe either paired alongside him or deployed on the left flank, Benzema will be eager to shine in Qatar having missed his country’s victorious campaign in Russia four years ago.
Recognised as the best player in the world this year, Benzema will be aiming to reinforce this status as the finest performer on show at the Qatar showpiece this winter.
In what looks almost certain to be his last outing at a World Cup Finals for , the great Lionel Messi will put it all on the line in Qatar in pursuit of the only major honour to have eluded him in his glittering career.
With the Argentines on a record-breaking run of 32 internationals without defeat, Lionel Scaloni’s men will go to Qatar full of belief that they can steer their captain Messi to World Cup glory and sporting immortality.
Having won the Golden Ball at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, with Argentina defeated by in the final, the in-form Messi will be aiming to this time pair the accolade with a World Cup winners’ medal in Qatar.
With the Three Lions handed a favourable group alongside the United States, Iran and Wales, hitman Kane will be confident of filling his boots for Gareth Southgate’s men from the outset of the tournament.
Should Kane score big and England go deep into the tournament, the 29-year-old could add the Golden Ball to the Golden Boot he acquired in Russia in 2018.
On the top of his game for PSG so far in this campaign, the Qatar Finals will mark the third occasion in which Neymar will assume the status of Brazil’s talisman at a World Cup.
Should the tournament favourites prevail to secure their sixth World Cup title in Qatar, expect Neymar to be at the heart of their success.
Awarded the Premier League’s Player of the Season gong after City sealed their second successive title in May, De Bruyne was also voted in third place in this year’s Ballon d’Or rankings.
A La Liga and Champions League winner already this year with Real Madrid, Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr will be hoping to add the World Cup title to his rapidly-growing trophy haul.
As part of a stacked array of attacking talent Brazil manager Tite has at his disposal, alongside the likes of Neymar Jr, Richarlison and Raphinha, Vinicius looks set to take on a prominent role for his country at his maiden World Cup Finals in Qatar.
With Brazil hotly-tipped for World Cup glory, the tournament could represent the perfect chance for 22-year-old Vinicius to truly announce himself on the international stage.
At 37 years old, the Qatar Finals will almost definitely see the curtain draw on the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup career.
Having participated in four Finals for , coming closest to glory in 2006 after being eliminated in the semi-finals stage by France, Ronaldo could become the first player in history to score in five different World Cups.
Although undeniably past his best at this stage, Ronaldo remains an extremely capable goalscorer and will back himself to the hilt to add to his World Cup account in Qatar. There would be no better way to call an end to his association with the sport’s most famous competition by leading his nation to success in Qatar.
Although enduring a slow start to life at the Camp Nou, Raphinha has shone in his early international career for Brazil to make him a certain pick for manager Tite’s squad for the Qatar World Cup.
Should Raphinha force his way into a Brazilian forward-line in which there is fierce competition for places, he could have the opportunity to breakout as a bonafide world star on the sport’s biggest stage.