The Golden Ball is given to the top player of the World Cup. It’s voted on by the media after FIFA presents a checklist of candidates. You might be saying: “Cool, why do I care who votes on it?” Well, if the media is responsible for effectively handing out the award, then the winner has to have a compelling story on top of some compelling statistics.

The early odds for the Golden Ball have Brazil’s Neymar Jr. and France’s Kylian Mbappe as the favorites at +900. Is either a good bet, or are better options available?

Looking to see who will win the 2022 World Cup? We have the 2022 World Cup odds here.

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Top 10 odds to win the World Cup Golden Ball

Odds to win Golden Ball
Player Country Odds
Neymar Jr. Brazil +900
Kylian Mbappe France +900
Lionel Messi Argentina +110
Karim Benzema France +1200
Kevin De Bruyne Belgium +1400
Harry Kane England +1400
Vinicius Jr. Brazil +1600
Raphinha Brazil +2500
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal +2500
Phil Foden England +3300

Odds as of November 11 at BetOnline Sportsbook

2022 World Cup Golden Ball: The Favorites

Neymar Jr. (+900)

Over the last 20 years, the winner of the Golden Ball has made it to the finals four out of five times. That’s why the favorite to win the Golden Ball is part of the team that’s favored to win the entire tournament. And Neymar doesn’t just play a part in the Brazilian side, he’s their top player.

Since 2021, Neymar has 14 goals and 13 assists in 20 games played with the national team. That’s 27 points or 1.35 points per 90, which is an incredible contribution rate.

When it comes to World Cups, Neymar has put up six goals and three helpers across 10 games. If Brazil is going to make a march to the World Cup final as their odds indicate they should, Neymar will be leading them to it.

And after exiting the 2018 World Cup in the quarterfinals, there’s a redemption arc here for Brazil. So a leading player for a team that could go deep, with a compelling storyline, sounds like the perfect candidate for the media to sink their teeth into for the Golden Ball, doesn’t it?

At +900, that’s a $900 profit for Neymar Jr.

Kylian Mbappe (+900)

No team has won back-to-back World Cups since Brazil did it in 1962. By that token, it’s unlikely France can pull off a World Cup victory after taking it all in 2018.

Just like Neymar, Mbappe is a top player for his national side. Since 2021, he has 17 goals and 11 assists through 29 matches, or 0.966 points per match.

Domestically, Mbappe has 11 goals and two helpers across 13 matches. The 23-year-old is as elite as they get at PSG where he gets to play with top-quality players like Neymar and Lionel Messi. That won’t change when he suits up for France. With the French, he plays with Antoine Griezmann and 2022 Ballon D’Or winner Karim Benzema.

So again, we have a top player, with a top outfit, playing with some elite teammates. If France, holding the third-best odds to win the 2022 World Cup, makes it deep, Mbappe has everything the media is looking for.

2022 World Cup Golden Ball Pick

Lionel Messi (+1100)

This is going to be Lionel Messi’s last kick at winning a World Cup. In 2014, he came close, pushing the Argentines to the final. He even won the Golden Ball that year.

The World Cup is the last major trophy that Messi has left to win. Argentina is second on the oddsboard with +550 odds.

While Messi is 35 years old, he is still the magic man we know him as. In 12 matches with PSG, he has hit seven goals and 10 assists on the year. He has already all but passed his production from ’21-22 when he hit six goals and 14 assists.

It feels like the GOAT is hitting his stride ahead of the competition in Qatar. His side has gone unbeaten since 2021, dropping points only twice, in draws against Brazil and Ecuador in the 2022 World Cup qualification campaign.

Like his teammates Neymar and Mbappe, Messi has all the credentials that the media is looking for when it comes to awarding the Golden Ball.

Last Five World Cup Golden Ball Winners

Last Five Winners of World Cup Golden Ball
World Cup Player  Country
2018 Luka Modric Croatia
2014 Lionel Messi Argentina
2010 Diego Forlan Uruguay
2006 Zinedine Zidane France
2002 Oliver Kahn Germany

 

Of the Golden Ball winners listed here, only Diego Forlan in 2010 didn’t make it to the final. His Uruguayan side was bounced in the semifinals by the Netherlands. 

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