The competition for the Golden Boot award at the UEFA European Championship is always close run. Last time around, in 2012, six players were in a tie for the award, having each scored three goals during the tournament. There is one crucial difference in 2016, however, which is that the finals will include 24 teams for the first time, rather than the usual 16. This, of course, means more matches, and more matches should hopefully mean more goals.
Who are the favourites?
In looking dispassionately at the favourites for the Euro 2016 Golden Boot, it has to be said that, currently, none of the England players, let alone those drawn from the current Manchester United squad, are in the lead to win the award. According to 888 Sports, Germany’s Thomas Müller, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and France’s Antoine Griezmann are the top three favourites. Müller has an astonishing recent record, the Bayern Munich forward having notched up 31 goals in 70 appearances for his national side. He was the number two goal scorer overall in the 2014 World Cup with five goals, including a hat-trick against Portugal.
Speaking of Portugal, Ronaldo, of course, is one of the world’s top football players, and as such is always going to be a contender for the Golden Boot. As a Manchester United player, he won the European Golden Shoe in the 2007-2008 Premier League season, the only time any of our red shirts have taken home the award. This shouldn’t reflect badly on the club, however, as to put it into perspective, the only English winner of the Golden Shoe since it was established in 1967 has been Kevin Phillips of Sunderland, who took it home in 1999-2000. Since moving to Real Madrid, Ronaldo has won the award three more times, in 2010-2011, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, making him the only player ever to have won the Golden Shoe four times. It should be noted that his scoring record for Portugal is nowhere near as impressive as his tally for Real Madrid, but time will tell.
In comparison, Griezmann is something of a relative outsider. He’s had a great season at Atlético Madrid though, and his position in the French team is sure to reflect this.
Which Man United players are in with a chance?
Sticking with France, Manchester United’s recent star signing, Anthony Martial, is being hailed as a key player in that country’s Euro 2016 bid. The youngster impressed this season with stunning goals against Liverpool and Everton, and if given the opportunity, he could certainly make an equally spectacular mark with his national team.
In the England squad, all eyes will be on Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, but old hand Wayne Rooney certainly shouldn’t be taken for granted. As with Martial on the French side, it all depends on whether he’s given the opportunities to get near to the opposing goal. If Rooney can get up front often enough, then his considerable goal-scoring potential could be fulfilled; if not, then he may end up holding down an equally important supporting role without getting a shot at the glory of the Golden Boot.
What about the other contenders?
We’ve mentioned Tottenham’s Harry Kane, who recently told Alan Shearer that winning the Euro 2016 Golden Boot was definitely an ambition of his. Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud is also a favourite with the bookies, and is another strong player on the French team. Further down the list are two Chelsea players, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, who will be playing for Spain and Belgium respectively.
Ultimately, while it would be incredible to see a member of the current Manchester United squad win the coveted Euro 2016 Golden Boot, it seems unlikely to happen. Wayne Rooney may be the player with the best chance, and he’s definitely in the running, but it’s also fair to say that he’s a long shot. In fact, it’s likely that the award won’t go to anyone from the England team. Anthony Martial may well impress for France, but with Antoine Griezmann more likely to be given the opportunities out front, he may well outshine his equally talented teammate.
With these long odds, however, anyone betting on a Manchester United player out of loyalty would certainly enjoy some decent winnings if their man came through. Less likely things have happened, and who knows, maybe the combined support of all the Manchester United supporters with money on him might lift Rooney to Golden Boot glory?