Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the overwhelming favourite, Lionel Messi, and Neymar are vying for the gong.
But yesterday, 16km north at Wembley Stadium, Harry Kane continued his campaign to ensure he will be among the top three in 2018 with yet another match-winning performance for Tottenham.
His brace against Liverpool took his tally to 17 goals in 16 games for club and country this season, a better strike rate than any of the trio vying for Fifa’s bauble. It also took him back to the top of the Premier League’s scoring charts with eight.
Never mind he was helped by some comical early defending from the visitors, Kane’s two goals, his first in the league at Tottenham’s temporary home, plus one fine assist, inspired his side to a victory which lifts Spurs to within five points of league leaders Manchester City.
Kane might well have been inspired by a pre-match meeting with Diego Maradona, a former team-mate of manager Mauricio Pochettino, who he was introduced to in the tunnel.
“He was amazing,” Pochettino said of Kane. “He is just amazing.
“He is one of the best strikers in the world. He was tired at the end but it has been a massive effort from him this week — Bournemouth, Real Madrid, and now today.
“He is not a machine, maybe on Wednesday he needs a rest.”
There were fewer than five minutes on the clock when Kane made the early breakthrough for the hosts after Dejan Lovren was caught ball-watching when Kieran Trippier chipped a hopeful ball in behind the Liverpool defence.
Kane, just onside, rounded Simon Mignolet and steered the ball into an empty net.
He turned provider seven minutes later — and again had Lovren to thank for the opportunity. The Croatian completely misjudged a long ball forward, which sailed over his head. Kane had anticipated the mistake and raced down the right flank before curling an inch-perfect cross into the path of Son, who did not even have to break his stride as he stroked the ball beyond Mignolet.
Son almost had his second — and Spurs’ third — minutes later but his angled effort cannoned off the crossbar.
Liverpool got back in the game in the 24th minute in controversial fashion as Kane appeared to be fouled in the build-up. But referee Andre Mariner did not agree which allowed Jordan Henderson to glide a speculative pass forward. Dele Alli got a head on it but only succeeded in redirecting the ball directly into Salah’s path and the Egyptian finished with his first touch.
Lovren then began to make amends for his miserable start to the game by denying Kane with a brilliantly timed block but it would be his final act of the afternoon as Jurgen Klopp mercilessly hooked him after just 32 minutes. His replacement, the former Arsenal player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, was booed throughout.
The change brought with it a switch to 3-5-2 and Liverpool immediately looked far more secure. However, in first-half stoppage time, Alli volleyed the home side back into a two-goal lead.
Despite a decent start to the second half, Liverpool were three goals behind within 11 minutes of the restart. Mignolet could only claw Trippier’s high free-kick as far as Jan Vertonghen and when his effort was cleared off the line by Roberto Firmino, there was Kane to tuck it home.
The four goals mean that not since 1964 have Liverpool, now ninth, conceded so many goals in their first nine top-flight games in a season.
“I’ve had a few difficult questions to answer today but what can I say to that?” Jurgen Klopp said when presented with that fact. “It’s not a nice statistic.
“In all decisive moments we were not there and it’s difficult to talk about because I don’t want to create headlines. It was just poor defending.
“The first goal is unbelievably easy to defend. The second goal usually Dejan would make a header but he missed the ball. Easy goal. Third goal, another present.
“Everything that happened today was so obvious. You cannot get results with a performance like today. Whatever you say about us in a negative way, you are right.”
Lloris 8; Alderweireld 7, Sanchez 7, Vertonghen 7; Trippier 7, Winks 7, Alli 7, Aurier 7; Eriksen 7 (81, Dier 6), Son 7 (69, Sissoko 6); Kane 8 (Llorente 88).
Vorm, Rose, Nkoudou, Davies.
Mignolet 6; Gomez 6, Matip 6, Lovren 4 (32, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6), Moreno 6; Henderson 6, Can 6 (83, Grujic x), Milner 7; Salah 7, Firmino 6 (77, Sturridge 6), Coutinho 6.
Karius, Klavan, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.
Andre Mariner 7