World Cup 2022 Top Goalscorer Odds: Assessing the major contenders for the Golden Boot
You can't be excited about watching the top teams at a major international tournament without also anticipating seeing the world's greatest players strut their stuff on the biggest stage.
Arguably the most important of any taking to the field are those who score goals. Because as we know you can't win football matches without putting the ball in the back of the net.
As part of our pre-World Cup coverage here at BettingOdds.com we've explored the prominent figures in the Golden Boot market and made judgements on who might be worth your money to finish as the 2022 Top Goalscorer in Qatar.
Harry Kane - England
Golden Boot favourite, England captain and Tottenham vice captain Harry Kane is where we start the conversation. The bookmaker's confidence in him is indeed well founded: we're looking at a talismanic figure in one of the most favoured nations who finished the 2018 World Cup with his named etched into this very trophy.
Kane enters the tournament only needing three goals to surpass Wayne Rooney as England's all-time leading goalscorer; as if such a predatory striker needed further motivation to find the net.
There aren't any question marks hanging over the 29-year-old nowadays, as he's more than proven his credentials as an elite goalscorer in the Premier League and for England.
As highlighted here on BettingOdds.com penalties could prove to be a key asset for determining this particular market in Qatar. For more thoughts on that subject matter, head here.
If you're one of many who believes King Kane can make it a three-peat in Qatar, SBK have him at 44/5.
Kylian Mbappe - France
One half of the heir apparent to the Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo throne finds himself installed just behind Kane in the Top Goalscorer betting. Erling Haaland won't be making an appearance at the World Cup Finals in Qatar, so the torch-bearing responsibilities for this generation's new wave of impossibly engineered footballing superstars rests solely on Kylian Mbappe's shoulders.
Following up on the topic mentioned when discussing Harry Kane's chances of taking home the award, it's important to note that Didier Deschamps named Antoine Griezmann as France's designated penalty taker before last year's Euros.
Who can forget the youngster's damning missed penalty that left France exiting Euro 2020 via a last-16 shootout defeat to Switzerland - a moment that had the PSF forward allegedly contemplate international retirement.
Where this selection might take appeal over England's Harry Kane is weighing up which country could progress further. Longevity is a crucial decider in the Golden Boot race, and the further he and his France side progress, the more opportunities he'll have to notch.
The old adage goes: if you don't buy a ticket, you don't win the raffle. In this case: Kylian Mbappe will buy many tickets for many raffles should he and France perform up to expectations this time around.
SBK have gone with a whopping 19/2 for the Parisian-born prodigy to finish top of the rock in the Golden Boot charts.
Lionel Messi - Argentina
Enough about the future, here is the now. It's Lionel Messi's world and we're just living in it. There aren't enough superlatives left that put into words the things this specimen can do on a football pitch.
Which is why some may be surprised to find him as far out as 14/1 to be the Top Goalscorer; especially when Argentina have been so well backed in the outright betting.
Lionel Messi has posted some frightening numbers for more than a decade, smashing records for fun at every turn. But his dominance hasn't always translated as fluently when donning the Argentina shirt as it has for Barcelona and more recently PSG.
Both @JimmyThePunt and @wizard_season - two of our dedicated website contributors - have selected Lautaro Martinez as their personal picks for this tournament's Top Goalscorer among our Freelancer Best Bets. But is that overlooking Messi's status as this team's focal point?
If Argentina deliver like a large contingent are expecting them to, Messi will be an indelible presence in that success, with naturally more emphasis on him scoring goals than providing them for others.
Neymar - Brazil
Sticking with the South American theme sees Brazil's Neymar the next name featured in this top contenders list. His 14/1 price may also raise a few eyebrows, although you'd expect the goals are more likely to be shared among his Brazil team than Messi and co in his Argentina side.
Brazil are the competition's short-priced favourites to lift a historic sixth trophy a week before Christmas. And by that logic you might assume Neymar would find himself further up in the betting as a way for the major operators to hedge their bets.
The Copa America runners-up have some appetising names to choose from in advanced positions - Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Antony and Vinicius Jr to name but a few - and Neymar is the lone forward deployed in a typical 4-2-3-1 from Tite.
Neymar isn't one that should be underestimated lightly. He and Pele are the only two of A Seleção's goal scorers to reach the 70+ international goals mark. He's out in front of Ronaldo's 62 goals by a margin of 13 and can become Brazil's greatest goalscorer with three goals in Qatar.
If you like your stats, Neymar currently finds the net once every 134 minutes for his country - boasting a goals per game average of 0.62.
Karim Benzema - France
Rounding out the top five contenders according to the odds is 2022 Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema. Conversations about the Frenchman's abilities seem to have accelerated after he successfully stepped from out of Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow at Real Madrid. In a team dominated by enormous stars and even larger egos, it's easy to not receive the credit you deserve.
But the reality is you'd be hard pressed to find a more potent forward in front of goal right now in world football. And for that reason alone the 16/1 SBK have on offer is sure to attract some punters, particularly those who make good use of bookmaker's each-way terms.
Maybe it's the alleged unrest that never seems too far from the French camp that is having an immediate effect on his price. Or perhaps attention should be turned to the supposed champions curse that could result in an early exit for France.
Ongoing off-the-field squabbles between himself and Kylian Mbappe won't fill some with much confidence about Benzema being provided with the requisite service he deserves, but this is a player that can carve something out of nothing that we're talking about.
Don't forget that he may also be expected to share game time with a number of other top players in that 26-man squad, most notably Olivier Giroud.