The 2018 World Cup is upon us, with only days remaining before the big kick-off in Russia, as 32 nations seek silverware success in their respective campaigns.
Along with the outright honour of claiming the famous trophy, probably the most prestigious in the sport, there are plenty of other personal awards up for grabs, including the illustrious Golden Ball, which is given to the best player of the tournament.
There have been a host of world-famous names to have achieved such a feat and claimed the honour of the Golden Ball throughout the history of the competition, so who will be next to rally to success?
Here are the three leading contenders to do so on Russian territory this summer:
Brazil’s talisman Neymar made a very welcome return to action during recent international friendly action, as he netted a wonder strike in an eventual 2-0 victory over solid nation Croatia.
The PSG superstar had been previously thought to be heading for a summer off after picking up a threatening injury in February, which then ruled him out for the remainder of the club campaign in Ligue 1 and the Champions League.
But he is back to fitness and looks sharp already. If he can continue at his current firing rate, Brazil could soon witness a new all-time marksman in their ranks. Neymar has the hopes and expectations of an entire nation resting on his shoulders this summer, but he has proved before that he can deal with such pressure.
The Samba Boys skipper is, therefore, a highly promising 8/1 favourite from Betfair in their 2018 World Cup predictions to clinch the Golden Ball on Russian territory this summer.
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
We start off with the most recent winner of the Golden Ball, Lionel Messi (who else?).
The Barcelona superstar was in great form throughout the 2014 finals in Brazil and looked finally set to guide Argentina to the World Cup glory they have long been desiring during his playing days.
Unfortunately for Messi and co they were toppled in the final by Germany, thanks to a late extra-time strike from Mario Gotze. Although, the La Liga hitman scooped the Golden Ball award with his sublime showings on Brazilian soil and is now preparing for what will likely be his final ever international tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
If there’s a personal award up for grabs, then it’s most likely Cristiano Ronaldo will be in the running to win it.
The all-time Real Madrid goal scorer helped Portugal to their first ever major international trophy two years ago in France, when they toppled the host nation in the final of Euro 2016 to reign supreme and cause mass ecstasy among supporters back home.
If Ronaldo, who recently won the Champions League for the third season in a row with Los Blancos, is able to replicate his club form from the past season, then a potential Golden Ball triumph is on the horizon. You can never rule Ronaldo out.