Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo - profiling the top 15 World Cup Golden Boot contenders

Lionel Messi Argentina

The World Cup is set to begin, but who will win the Golden Boot? Here are the top Golden Boot contenders...

Lionel Messi, Argentina - The Barcelona star is playing in his third World Cup, and will be looking to add to his solitary goal scored in 2006. Many feel that this is Messi's time to star on the world stage, and it's little surprise to see him ranked as the favourite to win the Golden Boot.

Neymar, Brazil - Messi's club team mate Neymar has even more expectation on his shoulders, with the home faithful banking on the 22-year-old playing a starring role for Luiz Felipe Scolari's men. With a staggering 31 goals in just 49 international games, Neymar is expected to continue that blistering form.

Sergio Aguero, Argentina - If Messi doesn't light up at the World Cup, then Manchester City star Aguero will be relied upon for goals in the Argentina attack. With 75 goals in three seasons for City, Aguero has proven himself as one of the top strikers in Europe - and will be looking to match that Brazil.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal - Having finally clinched the Ballon d'Or, Ronaldo may even be considered as better than Messi - and he will have to be on top form to lead Portugal in to the knockout stages. A slight injury may have concerned fans about his impact in Brazil, but given that he will be 33 by World Cup 2018, he will be desperate to impress this year.

Fred, Brazil - Brazil are expected to go far in front of their home fans this summer, and whilst the goalscoring pressure will be on Neymar, centre forward Fred can also contribute. The former Lyon man may not be the most technically gifted of strikers, but proved in last year's Confederations Cup that he can score goals.

Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina - The third Argentinian forward in the top six is Napoli's Higuain, who plays in the centre of Alejandro Sabella's dangerous front line. The former Real Madrid striker has hit 20 goals in 36 games for his country - including a hat-trick at the last World Cup.

Romelu Lukaku, Belgium - Youngster Lukaku will be Belgium's main hope in attack after the injury to Christian Benteke, and the 21-year-old will be looking to take his great club form to the World Cup. The Chelsea star has spent the year on loan at Everton, and could prove to Jose Mourinho that his future lies at Stamford Bridge.

Thomas Muller, Germany - After injury to Mario Gomez, Germany were only able to call-up Miroslav Klose as their sole centre forward. As a result, forward Muller could be relied upon heavily for goals after a good season for Bayern Munich - and after all, he won the Golden Boot in 2010.

Diego Costa, Spain - possibly the most hated man in Brazil this summer will be striker Costa, who turned his back on Scolari's men to change his allegiance and play for Spain. After an incredible season for Atletico Madrid, Costa is backed to fare well this summer - but how Spain will use their centre forwards could limit his impact.

Karim Benzema, France - France have become dark horses after the emergence of some impressive young players, but one of the few players left from their disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign is striker Benzema. Consistently on the scoresheet for Real Madrid, Benzema needs to replicate that for France.

Luis Suarez, Uruguay - A recent injury has hurt his odds, but Liverpool star Suarez will still be Uruguay's main man. 31 goals in 37 games for the Reds this season have all but handed 27-year-old the crown as the Premier League's best player - and he will be looking to do the same at the World Cup.

Robin van Persie, Holland - Manchester United star van Persie may have suffered a down season under David Moyes, but could hit top form once again under Red Devils boss-in-waiting Louis van Gaal. Averaging better than a goal every other game for Holland, they will need him to carry on that ratio if they are to stand any chance in Brazil.

Mario Balotelli, Italy - A known man from his time with Manchester City, Balotelli has hit 30 goals in 54 games for AC Milan, but has yet to put it all together on the international stage. The 23-year-old will be desperate to score against former City team mate Joe Hart against England, and will have a point to prove throughout.

Edinson Cavani, Uruguay - If Suarez isn't fully fit, then the mantle will fall upon Paris Saint-Germain hitman Cavani. 25 goals in just 43 games for the French side has been excellent for the ex-Napoli man, but he's another player who has never really impressed on the international stage - is now Cavani's time?

Wayne Rooney, England - One of England's all-time top goalscorers, Rooney has still yet to score at a World Cup as he enters his third tournament. In warm-up matches, the Manchester United forward has looked sluggish and some have said he should be dropped, but Rooney still possesses a goal threat.

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