World Cup 2022: Who will win the Golden Boot in Qatar?

We take a look at the frontrunners in the battle to score the most goals in Qatar and get their hands on the Golden Boot

By James Descombes Published: 14 November 2022 - 1.48pm
harry kane with golden boot

A lethal striker is often a pre-requisite for any nation harbouring hopes of lifting the World Cup trophy. 

Having a great goalscorer doesn't always guarantee success, but it can certainly help.

The Three Lions' captain, Harry Kane, won the trophy in 2018 as Gareth Southgate's men reached the Semi-Final in Russia, an award that fellow England striker Garry Linker won at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. 

With so many incredible goalscorers playing for some of the top teams in Qatar, this tournament could be a real treat for fans of the beautiful game.

The fact that the tournament comes at the half-way point in the season also means that players should be in peak form and not too tired from a hectic full-season of domestic and European football.

The magic number of goals for a Golden Boot win is usually six. It's likely to be higher this time around. But who will get their hands on the iconic award? 

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Harry Kane

England’s captain knows what it feels like to win a World Cup Golden Boot having scored his way to the trophy in 2018 at the Russia World Cup.

Four years ago he scored six goals, including a hat-trick against Panama, in the group stage.

However, Kane failed to score in the quarter-final against Sweden or the semi against Croatia. The Spurs man will be targeting more goals in the later stages this time around which could lead England to World Cup glory.

Kane has been in good form for his club this season, with 11 goals in the Premier League, second only to Erling Haaland.

For Spurs and England Kane often drops deep to allow other forwards to push further up the pitch. With his passing ability, Kane is capable of providing assists, but will need to get on the end of passes and be a nuisance in the box if he wants to get his hands on the Golden Boot in Qatar.

What’s more, Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has recently commented that Kane is ‘really tired’ after playing in all of Spurs’ matches so far this season.

Hopefully England’s talisman will be feeling ready to score lots of goals when the Three Lions kick-off their World Cup campaign against Iran on 21 November. 

Kylian Mbappe

Renowned FIFA cover star Kylian Mbappe is used to sharing the limelight at PSG, playing alongside Neymar and Messi, and he’ll need to do so for a Les Bleus side boasting an array of attacking talent in Qatar.

Still, even with the likes of Karim Benzema, Ousmane Dembele, Antonine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud to choose from, France will be looking to Mbappe to lead the line and fire them to glory once again.

The Frenchman has 11 goals in Ligue 1 so far this season, plus another six in the Champions League, so goes into the tournament in great form. His pace and finishing could terrify the defences of Denmark, Australia and Tunisia in the group stage.

After a disappointing Euros, Kylian Mbappe will be determined to show the world that he’s one of the best in the business at the very highest level. 

Karim Benzema

The Ballon d’Or winner returns to the French side for his first World Cup since 2014. The Real Madrid striker was banished from the 2016 Euros side and the 2018 World Cup squad, but returned for last year’s Euros with four goals in four games.

He comes into this World Cup off the back of an incredible season for Real Madrid, where Los Blancos won the Champions League in Paris and Benzema was crowned the tournament’s top goalscorer with 15 goals in 12 appearances.

The Ballon d’Or swiftly followed, which must’ve felt especially satisfying after seeing his ex-teammate Ronaldo win the trophy so many times before. 

Cristiano Ronaldo

At 37 years old, this is very likely to be Ronaldo’s last international tournament for Portugal.

And amid troubled times at Manchester United, CR7 will be determined to remind the world that he’s still one of the very best at putting the ball in the back of the net.

As Portugal’s focal point, Ronaldo has often shown his ability and desire to drive the team on and help them go that extra mile.

He pushed his nation to win the Euros in 2016 and the Nations League in 2019. In what could be his swansong, could the greatest all-time international goalscorer help Portugal win the biggest prize of them all?

With Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea making up Group H, there will be some tough defences for Ronaldo to crack, but he will, of course, be very confident of doing so. 

Lionel Messi

Arguably the greatest player in the world will be desperate to leave his mark on the 2022 World Cup.

Messi is yet to truly light up a World Cup, certainly in the way that Argentine icon Diego Maradona did in 1986.

He scored just once at the last World Cup and once in 2006, while in 2014 he played well, receiving the Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player, and scored four goals, but couldn’t help Argentina win the World Cup after suffering defeat to Germany in the final.

Helping his nation win the World Cup would be the little magician’s greatest achievement, and at 35 years old this is perhaps his last chance to do so.

With it likely to be Ronaldo’s last World Cup too, this could be the last chance to see arguably the two greatest ever players together at the World Cup. Those ‘greatest of all time’ debates could be decided in Qatar.

Messi has seven goals for PSG in Ligue 1 this season, plus another four in the Champions League. With Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland making up Group C, Messi will have to be at his majestic best to get ahead in the battle for the Golden Boot. 

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku looked a shadow of his former self at Chelsea and hasn’t fared much better on loan at Inter Milan, but the World Cup provides a platform for the Belgian striker to get his goalscoring mojo back.

Belgium are ranked the second best side in the world (behind Brazil) and with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Leandro Trossard and Eden Hazard in the squad, you’d expect Lukaku to get chances.

With tough opposition in Group F coming from Canada, Morocco and Croatia, Lukaku will have to show the type of goalscoring prowess he displayed in his first spell at Inter to get anywhere near that Golden Boot.  

However, with 68 goals in 102 appearance for his country, we’ve seen that Lukaku often saves his best for Belgium.

Romelu lukaku belgium

Neymar

Brazil’s superstar striker is a sensible bet to take home the Golden Boot. The Selecao are widely tipped to win the World Cup and Neymar is their main man.

Neymar needs just three more goals to overtake the great Pele and become the leading all-time goalscorer for Brazil.

With Serbia, Cameroon and Switzerland in Group G, Neymar will fancy his chances of taking that record and giving himself a great chance of winning the Golden Boot.

Brazil’s forward options are scary, with Vinicius Jr, Gabriel Jesus, Bruno Guimaraes, Richarlison, Rodrygo, Raphinha and Antony among those capable of creating chances for Brazil's number 10.

Of course, Neymar is used to playing alongside the very best, as he does week in week out for PSG. So far this season he has 11 goals in 13 Ligue 1 appearances, which is great goalscoring form to be taking to the World Cup.

In the previous two World Cups Neymar has made 10 appearances, scoring six times.

He scored four goals is first four matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but was injured in the quarter-final against Colombia and had to watch as the home nation lost the semi-final 7-1 to Germany.

He only managed two goals at Russia 2018, with Brazil getting knocked out in the quarter-final to Belgium. Can Neymar live up to the hype in Qatar?

Robert Lewandowski

Poland face a tricky group with Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

If they’re to make it to the round of 16, they’ll need their all-time top goalscorer to be in the sort of form he’s shown for Barcelona this season.

Lewandowski has 13 goals in 14 games in La Liga since joining the Spanish giants from Bayern Munich in the summer.

He also managed five goals in five appearances for the Catalans in the Champions League before being knocked out. Those goals took him to third place in the all-time Champions League top goalscorers list, behind Messi and Ronaldo.

If Poland can go deep into the competition or Lewandowski can score a hatful in one of the group games he might be in with a chance of taking home the Golden Boot, but with Poland potentially facing France in the round of 16 it’s going to be tough.  

Other Golden Boot contenders: Darwin Nunez (Uruguay), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia), Dusan Vlahovic (Serbia), Vinicius Jr (Brazil), Antoine Griezmann (France), Lautaro Martinez (Argentina), Sadio Mane (Senegal), Heung-min Son (South Korea).

Past Golden Boot winners:

2018 – Russia: Harry Kane, England, 6 goals

2014 – Brazil: James Rodriguez, Colombia, 6 goals

2010 – South Africa: Thomas Muller, Germany, 5 goals

2006 – Germany: Mirosalv Klose, Germany, 5 goals

2002 – South Korea & Japan: Ronaldo, Brazil, 8 goals

1998 – France: Davor Suker, Croatia, 6 goals

1994 – USA: Oleg Salenko (Russia) and Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria), 6 goals

1990 – Italy: Salvatore Schillaci, Italy, 6 goals