FIFA World Cup 2022: Which players will scoop the awards in Qatar?

On the left is Brazil football star Neymar and England striker Harry Kane on the right.
Brazil's Neymar and England striker Harry Kane are tipped to star at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Pic: Getty

There will be no shortage of stars on display when the 2022 FIFA World Cup gets underway this weekend, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane among the headline acts looking to bring football’s biggest prize home to their respective countries.

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And while lifting the World Cup trophy at tournament’s end in undoubtedly the biggest prize on offer in Qatar, there’s also plenty of individual honours up for grabs.

Here’s our picks to take home the Golden Ball, Golden Boot and Best Young Player awards:

Golden Ball - MVP

Lionel Messi (Argentina) - Despite being one of the elder statesmen in the Argentine line-up and likely playing in his last World Cup, Messi still has the ability to completely take over a game any time he steps on a football pitch. If La Albiceleste go deep in the tournament, it’ll be on the back of Messi, which will put him in prime position to win his second Golden Ball.

Neymar (Brazil) - The best player and captain on the team most favoured to win the tournament, Neymar has the chance to make Qatar 2022 the signature moment of his career. The 30-year-old is in the prime of his career as shown by his recent form for Paris Saint Germain and is surrounded by a support cast that has the potential to carry him to the promised land of World Cup glory and a Golden Ball to go with it.

Vinicius Jr (Brazil) - While all the focus on the Brazilian team will be centred around Neymar, Real Madrid forward Vincius Jr is another serious contender for the Golden Ball award. With four goals in six UEFA Champions League games this season, the 22-year-old comes into the tournament in red hot form and could be the standout player should Brazil progress deep into the knockout stage.

Kylian Mbappe (France) - After winning the Best Young Player award at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Mbappe has continued to develop into a world class player, capable of single-handedly grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and turning it in his team’s favour. If the 23-year-old can show consistency throughout the tournament, he’s as good a chance as anyone to be deemed the most valuable player, especially if France can once again make a deep run towards to the title.

Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) - A bit of an outside chance, but De Bruyne has been in scintillating form for Manchester City so far this season. The Belgian squad has plenty of talent to carry it well into the knockout stages, but it’ll be the brilliance of De Bruyne and his ability to create and score goals that will stand head and shoulders above his peers should Belgium make a serious impact in Qatar.

Golden Boot - Top Goal Scorer

Harry Kane (England) - There are so many factors in Kane’s favour to repeat his 2018 accomplishment of being the tournament’s top goal scorer. England’s Group B opponents of Iran, Wales and the United States are a step below the Three Lions in terms of quality, meaning they’re likely to leak goals.

You’d also expect England to go deep in the tournament given their strong showing in Russia and Euro 2020, giving Kane all the more opportunity to run up his tally. Not to mention he’ll almost certainly be England’s penalty taker once again.

Karim Benzema (France) - The reigning Ballon d’Or winner has scored goals at a prolific rate whenever he’s set foot on the pitch in the last 18 months, and it’s hard not to see this trend continuing in Qatar. With France’s Group D opponents consisting of Denmark, Tunisia and Australia, it’s likely Benzema will have plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net before the knockout stage has even commenced.

Pictured here, France's Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring a goal for Real Madrid.
France will be hoping Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema brings his Real Madrid form with him to the World Cup in Qatar. Pic: Getty

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) - Despite being 37 years old and barely playing at club level for Manchester United in recent weeks, Ronaldo will still be the focal point of the Portuguese attack and relied on heavily to score. Entering the tournament with a chip on his shoulder after all that has gone on at Old Trafford, it would not be surprising to see Ronaldo put Portugal on his back and carry them deeper than expected in this World Cup.

Memphis Depay (Netherlands) - Similar to Kane and Benzema, Depay has the opportunity to capitalise on what appears to be a soft draw for the Netherlands. While not necessarily an out and out striker like some of the others on this list, Depay has shown the ability to find the back of the net at club level with Barcelona and could benefit from the Dutch running up the score against weaker opposition in Ecuador, Senegal and Qatar.

Best Young Player - Under-21

Pedri (Spain) - Despite his tender age, the Barcelona starlet has already proven himself to be one of his club’s most important players having appeared in 73 matches across all competitions last season. He’s already well established in the national team as well, having represented Spain with aplomb at Euro 2020 where he was voted Young Player of the Tournament and named in the Team of the Tournament.

Jamal Musiala (Germany) - The 19-year-old German has produced five goals and four assists in nine matches for Bayern Munich already this season, while showing signs of becoming a potential superstar of the game. Is set to feature prominently for Die Mannschaft throughout the tournament.

Garang Kuol (Australia) - Given the Socceroos are unlikely to go deep in the tournament, Kuol is probably no chance of actually wining the award for Best Young Player at the World Cup. However, that doesn’t mean we’re any less excited to watch the young Aussie, who has torn up the A-League with the Central Coast Mariners, strut his stuff on the biggest stage in world football.

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