At the end of the tournament, awards are presented to certain players for their performances throughout. For instance, the Golden Ball is awarded to the highest World Cup goalscorer, while the Golden Boot is for the overall best player at the competition. The same goes for the goalkeepers, who have the chance of winning the coveted Golden Glove. Finally, the ‘young player of the tournament’ is a self-evident award given to the tournament’s hottest prospect.
The award for the best goalkeeper of the competition, previously named the ‘Lev Yashin’ award, is always an interesting battle. This year we have seen some mean defences, a fair few shutouts and certainly some brilliant goalkeeping performances. The winner usually comes from the country that won the tournament – which bodes well for Hugo Lloris, who has had a fantastic run of games this summer. Amazing saves against Uruguay and Belgium in the run-up to the final put the Spurs man on the radar for the trophy.
With four clean sheets on the way, there can surely be no other contenders for the trophy. Courtois had a great World Cup and was unfortunate to be on the losing side in the semi-final, while penalty hero Jordan Pickford showed his class in abundance. It seems however, they will remain honourable mentions.
Young player of the tournament
This is perhaps the easiest award to decide this year. There was a plethora of young talent on display at the World Cup, but the rules stipulate that the player can be no older than 21 years of age to qualify. Some previous winners include Pele, Franz ‘Kaiser’ Beckenbauer and Michael Owen.
Many were impressed by Juventus and Uruguay silky midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur. He displayed a great range of passing and was cool enough to break the press of many teams – France included. Another impressive youngster was Senegalese wide man Ismaila Sarr, who plys his trade at Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais.
However, there is surely only one winner here. Kylian Mbappe not only solidified his claim as the world’s hottest prospect – having yet to turn 20 – but showed us at just 19 years old he is one of the best players around. Rarely outshone, Mbappe looks to be the guy to get it. His explosive speed and power is matched with an ability and intelligence that belies his age. Injury permitting, the young Frenchman is a dead certain Ballon D’or winner in the making.
Before the Final commences on Sunday 15th July, the goal scoring charts are as follows: Harry Kane sits on top with six goals, having surpassed three of the last four top scorers already. In fact, the only players within reach of him are Kylian Mbappe on three, tied with compatriot Antione Griezmann. Either of them would need a World Cup final hat-trick to tie with Harry Kane, so it seems likely that the Tottenham Hotspur number 10 will be taking the trophy home with him. A bittersweet feat.
There have been many standout performers in this World Cup. For ease of reading, the top five contenders will suffice. Eden Hazard simply must make the shortlist. He looked in full throttle every time he received the ball and was simply unplayable at times. Making sure the viewers knew exactly who the best player on the pitch was versus Brazil, the man destined for a Ballon D’or showed us his best this summer.
From finalists France, two players should surely be considered. Perhaps not as heavily considered as the next man, but Paul Pogba was sublime in the midfield for his country. Scoring a crucial goal versus Australia and playing a fantastic defensive game in all the knockout ties, Manchester United will have a man in form returning home next week. After him, we must mention Kylian Mbappe again. Overlooking Kante and Griezmann, the dead certain winner of the young player of the tournament has a claim to the big trophy, too. Other deserving winners are Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane.