Click next to see the seven contenders.

World Cup 2014: Top 7 Golden Ball contenders (1)

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Most of the players expected to shine at the 2014 World Cup finals have done exactly that during one of the most remarkable group stages we’ve ever witnessed. As we approach the knockout rounds, we look at the seven leading contenders for the prestigious Golden Ball award.

But before we get to the slideshow, we must start by mentioning a few household names who probably won’t be in the running for the coveted individual accolade.

Honourable mentions

Cristiano Ronaldo is the obvious one. There’s still enough time for the Portugal captain to fire his way into contention, but after failing to score in his first two 2014 World Cup appearances, it’s unlikely the current holder of the Ballon d’Or will be troubling the seven players on this list.

Ecuador striker Enner Valencia has been a revelation, but how far can the South American nation realistically go in this tournament? Similarly with Uruguay forward Luis Suarez, who scored two superb goals against England but faces a lengthy ban if found guilty of biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Plenty of time left

Of course, every player left in the competition still has a chance of performing wonders in the knockout stages, when it really matters, to secure the Golden Ball award. Doing it in the group stages still counts, obviously, but it’s the last 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final itself which will separate the good player from the potential true greats.

One thing’s for sure: there are bound to be many, many more twists and turns between now and the World Cup final at the Maracana on July 13.

Will any of the seven players on this list win the Golden Ball and/or the Golden Boot award? Should anybody else be on this list? Leave a comment in the bow below and give us your thoughts - we want to hear them!

Want to see more? Click the ‘begin slideshow’ button below to view the seven players in contention to win the Golden Ball award…

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Robin Van Persie
Bayern Munich
Real Madrid
Lionel Messi
Manchester United
World Cup

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