Oddsmakers expect Argentina’s Lionel Messi to win the Golden Boot at the 2018 Russia World Cup, which gets underway in June. Sports books have the forward at anywhere from 8/1 to 10/1 to win the award for the most goals scored. His team is a 7/1 pick to win the Cup, behind France at 11/2, Brazil at 5/1, and overall favorite Germany at 4/1 in the quadrennial international competition.

Messi
Sports books expect Leonel Messi to score the most goals at this year’s World Cup in Russia. (Image: Reuters)

The forward, who also plays for Barcelona in Spain’s La Liga, has been tabbed by experts of the sport as the greatest player currently in the game. Some have even anointed him as the best player of all time.

Former coach Luis Enrique said in 2016 that the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year

“Messi’s the best in the world in every position,” he said. “He plays with complete freedom to change his position as he wants. If he plays as a No. 9, No. 8 or No. 6, he’s the best No. 9, No. 8 or No. 6 in the world. He can judge the perfect pass from 40 yards. He can put the ball wherever he wants. For me, he’s the best player of all time.”

The 30 year old is leading La Liga in goals scored this season with 24. On Sunday he scored his 600th career goal. Of those scores, 61 of them have come in international competitions while playing on the Argentina National Team.

Could Neymar Give Messi the Boot?

As much of a standout as Messi has been for his country, he has not been a factor when it comes to winning the individual honor. In the 2006 World Cup he made is debut and scored one goal in three games. In 2010, he was shut out.

Then four years ago in Brazil, Messi scored four goals, but was well behind winner, Colombia’s James Rodriguez, who had six.

Messi did, however, win the Golden Ball as the event’s best player.

If one player could steal the Golden Boot and Golden Ball out from under Messi, it’s Neymar. The Brazilian forward won the Bronze Boot as the third leading scorer in 2014, despite suffering a fracture in his back during the quarterfinal match against Colombia.

Playing for Paris Saint-Germain in France, Neymar is once again hurting from injury. The 26-year-old fractured his fifth metatarsal in a game a week ago and underwent surgery. His coaches have been assured he will be back in time for the team’s first match on June 17 against Switzerland.

Other Award Contenders

If Neymar is unable to perform in the World Cup, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo or England’s Harry Kane could grab the award.

Sportsbooks have Ronaldo as a 14/1 selection, while Kane is slotted at 16/1.

Ronaldo is the all-time leading scorer on Portugal’s national team and has three goals in three World Cups. He will lead a team that is pegged at 20/1 to win in Russia.

Kane is trying to become only the second English player to win the scoring title. The first was Gary Lineker in 1986. Though the team’s odds of winning are 15/1, the striker could make a push for the honor.

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