Four in running for World Cup Golden Ball

Croatia captain Luka Modric is in line for the World Cup's Golden Ball award for the best player

Croatia captain Luka Modric leads a group of four major contenders for the World Cup's Golden Ball; awarded to the best player at the tournament.

Lionel Messi won the Golden Ball four years ago despite Argentina being beaten by Germany in the Rio final.

The award from the 2010 edition in South Africa went to Diego Forlan from Uruguay, even though his team only finished fourth.

The last player from a World Cup winning team to claim the award was Brazil's Romario in 1994.

A player from the title-winning team has won the award at 10 of the past 20 World Cups.

FIFA's technical study group decides the winner and the award is presented after Sunday's final.

With Messi, reigning Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazil's Neymar long eliminated, the leading candidates for the Golden Ball are:

LUKA MODRIC: The diminutive 32-year-old Croatia and Real Madrid playmaker can crown his career - which already boasts a host of club honours - with the title in Sunday's final against France. He has scored two goals in Russia and rebounded from missing an extra-time penalty against Denmark by converting in the ensuing shootout. Croatia icon Davor Suker has said he would give Modric three votes if he could and Ivan Rakitic simply named him "the best player in Croatian history." According to FIFA, no player has covered more ground at this World Cup; 63 kilometres.

KYLIAN MBAPPE: The French sensation has taken the World Cup by storm with his skill and speed, scoring three goals so far. The Paris Saint-Germain forward became the first teenager since Brazilian legend Pele in 1958 to net twice in a World Cup match, which he did in France's 4-3 over Messi's Argentina. Mbappe can cap his tournament with the title against Croatia on Sunday. "I always said he is very good. I am happy that he is French. He has the potential to reach the level of Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo," France coach Didier Deschamps said.

HARRY KANE: The Tottenham Hotspur forward tops the scoring charts in Russia with six goals and his influence on the young England team is so big that he could take home the Golden Boot and Golden Ball award on Sunday, even though his country's title dream ended in the semi-finals. Captain Kane can raise his tally in the third-place match against Belgium on Saturday. "The manager gave him the captain's armband for one reason, he's the go-to player when someone has to make a difference," ex-England striker Alan Shearer said of Kane.

EDEN HAZARD: Belgium have a wealth of talent, with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens, but Chelsea attacking midfielder Hazard is their main man and captain. He pulls the strings and dictates the tempo, which was especially noticeable in their quarter-final defeat of Brazil. Hazard has two goals and two assists in Russia and coach Roberto Martinez has heaped praise on him, calling him "a great captain, a real leader. He always wants the ball, however the game is going."