The World Cup takes place in Qatar this winter and the tournament is usually a festival for celebrating the best footballers on the planet. Here are the top five stars to look out for in the Gulf state.
Lionel Messi – Argentina
Messi may have just turned 35 but he is arguably still the brightest star on planet football, despite coming to the latter years of his career.
The superstar forward broke his international duck last year when helping Argentina win the Copa America and will be keen to win the World Cup to enhance claims of him being the greatest player of all time.
Messi’s record in World Cups isn’t great as it stands – Argentina’s best showing has been reaching the final in 2014 where they lost narrowly to Germany.
However, the playmaker has scored 86 goals in 162 caps for Argentina and his nation will bank on him to add to that tally, even though he has not enjoyed the most fruitful goalscoring season with PSG.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal
Ronaldo already has one major international trophy to his name after winning the Euros and, like his rival Messi, will be aiming to win the World, Cup to further his claim to being the all-time best.
Even though he turned 37 last season, Ronaldo still had a very good campaign upon his return to Manchester United, scoring 24 goals in 38 games across all competitions.
He is the ultimate goal poacher and Portugal will undoubtedly still gear their game around Ronaldo’s needs, given how many goals he has scored in the past (117 in 189 appearances).
Kylian Mbappe – France
Mbappe has successfully managed to be the main man at PSG even with the arrival of Messi and the attacking sensation could help guide Les Bleus to another World Cup title.
At the age of 19, he took the last World Cup in Russia by storm and was crucial in the final against Croatia, scoring the fourth goal to effectively rubber-stamp their victory.
His frightening pace and mesmeric dribbling ability is sure to give many defenders sleepless nights in Qatar and, at 23, he still isn’t even in the peak years of his career.
Neymar – Brazil
Perhaps Neymar will feel like he has something to prove at this winter’s World Cup.
Mbappe seems to be the leading light at PSG, and with Messi’s arrival, the 30-year-old Brazilian seems to be the tertiary cog of the world-class front three.
That means the transfer speculation has hyped up once more for the world’s most expensive player, but in Brazil at least, he is the man they look to for magic.
The 7-1 home annihilation at the hands of Germany in the 2014 World Cup will have hurt massively, and Brazil didn’t fare much better in Russia as they were beaten by Belgium in the quarter-finals.
Brazil are the record World Cup winners with five titles, and Neymar will perhaps be reconsidered a great of the game if he can help steer his country to number six.
Harry Kane – England
Spurs and England forward Kane has a knack of scoring at international tournaments despite not necessarily playing at his best.
He has scored 10 goals across the last two tournaments and left Russia in 2018 with the Golden Boot.
Even when his link-up play isn’t at its best, he does have that goalscorer’s instinct that is very hard to teach.
Kane will be the main man for England once more and if Gareth Southgate gets the support cast right then the Spurs man will no doubt be fighting for a second straight Golden Boot.