Spain legend Iker Casillas has claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar Jr. will be in contention for the Golden Boot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Casillas, who won the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Spain, was asked to name his favorite contender to win the Golden Boot in Qatar. He said he originally backed Karim Benzema, but the France international is now out of the competition with an injury.
He told Marca:
"It is very difficult. Based on the streak he was on, I would say Benzema, but with the injury now... Let's see what happens. And then Neymar comes out and he can mess it up. Or Messi."
Casillas then seemingly changed his answer to Ronaldo - a player he shared the pitch with as a teammate 228 times at Real Madrid. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper continued:
"It seems that Cristiano has come to the World Cup as a guest and people don't count on him because of all the moves he has at Manchester United, but... When people talk about Cris they forget what he has done."
'San Iker' concluded:
"Come on, he doesn't forget, because he knows what he's done. But I would always like him on my team. Cristiano still has a role to play at the highest level."
Ronaldo, 37, will be playing in his fifth and, very likely, last World Cup tournament. The 5-time Ballon d'Or winner is expected to lead Portugal's line in manager Fernando Santos' team despite his lack of playing time at Manchester United.
Under manager Erik ten Hag, the Portugal icon has started in just four Premier League games this season. He is on the verge of an exit from Old Trafford after his explosive interview with Piers Morgan.
Neymar and Lionel Messi could give Cristiano Ronaldo a run for his money at the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Winning the World Cup Golden Boot doesn't always require scoring against every opposition and only in important games.
Scoring a number of goals against relatively weaker opposition in potentially one-sided games is a time-tested way to steal a march on other competitors. Neymar's Brazil have Switzerland, Serbia, and Cameroon in their group.
Lionel Messi's Argentina have Saudi Arabia, Poland, and Mexico in Group C. Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, meanwhile, have been handed a comparatively tricky group with Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea.
On paper, Neymar and Lionel Messi will fancy their chances of scoring a few goals in the group stages. They are positioned well to win the Golden Boot and are part of teams that are favorites to last the distance in the competition.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, however, may not have it as easy.