He may not have enjoyed the best season for his club, by his own ridiculously high standards, but Barcelona striker Lionel Messi still has the bookies worried ahead of the World Cup, BetVictor installing the Argentine attacker their 8/1 favourite to land the Golden Boot.
Messi certainly fits the profile of a potential winner given that he plays for a team set to go deep into the tournament, has plenty of international goals to his name and was prolific during qualifying but despite some tremendous performances and a hatful of assists, the 26-year-old failed to register in South Africa in 2010 and his price is plenty short enough.
At 11/1 with Winner.com, Neymar follows Barca team-mate Messi in the betting and again it’s easy to see why. Possessing an outstanding scoring record for his country, the tournament favourites, the 22-year-old has the potential to make a real mark on the competition.
However, there are a trio of reasons to tread carefully; Neymar’s odds look slightly slender in a potentially wide-open market, he didn’t make the impact many thought he might at the Camp Nou and Fred, a 22/1 shot at Paddy Power, outscored him in last year’s Confederations Cup.
Injury doubts make wagers on Liverpool’s Luiz Suarez (25/1, William Hill) and Chelsea new boy Diego Costa (25/1, Stan James) somewhat risky while BetVictor’s 20/1 chance Cristiano Ronaldo also has a fitness worry at the time of writing.
Sergio Aguero, by contrast, has put his injury woes behind him and after firing 28 goals in 34 appearances for Man City last term, despite a stop-start campaign, the Argentine looks set for a huge tournament.
With creator-in-chief providing chances, Aguero is ideally placed to add significantly to his international tally and of the main contenders at the head of the Golden Boot market, he possesses the strongest claims at 16/1 (betway).
Elsewhere, 2010 winner Thomas Muller is 40/1 via BetVictor to repeat the feat and Manchester United’s Robin van Persie will see some trade at 35/1 (Paddy Power), although Netherlands could struggle to progress far enough in the competition.
Meanwhile, where England are concerned, bet365 post 50/1 against Wayne Rooney but Daniel Sturridge represents far better value and it’s hard to fathom why’s be given a heftier quote of 66/1 by Ladbrokes. The Liverpool man is 5/2 (BetVictor) to be his club’s top scorer, a price lent appeal by Suarez’s fitness concerns and Ladbrokes chalk Sturridge up at 3/1 to be England’s chief goal-getter.
Finally, only once in the last nine World Cup renewals has the Golden Boot winner notched more than six goals and in six of those tournaments the top scorer has struck precisely half a dozen times. Bwin’s 2/1 for the top scorer to net six times isn’t without appeal.