Cristiano Ronaldo has been named the most powerful footballer on Instagram who will feature at this year’s World Cup.
The Manchester United forward has 481 million followers on the social media platform more than any other player who will star in Qatar.
His individual posts are also worth the most to brands, with each post valued at a staggering £3.1million.
The analysis has been carried out by statistics company Nielsen Sports, who have assessed players’ total number of followers, follower growth in the last year, engagement rate and average brand value per post on Instagram.
Media value represents how much should have been spent on that media channel to obtain the same advertising impact.
Ronaldo’s follower count has surged by almost 47% over the last year and he has a 2.25% engagement rate on the posts.
The Portuguese superstar places above his long-term rival Lionel Messi, who has 360 million followers and an individual post value of £2.3million.
The Argentine’s Paris Saint-Germain team-mates Neymar (178 million followers) and Kylian Mbappe (72.5 million) rank third and fourth respectively, with both of their individual posts worth just over £1million.
In the top 10, Brazil forward Vinicius Junior – who scored the winning goal in last season’s Champions League final – has had the largest follower growth with 89.69%, while France’s N’Golo Kante enjoys the biggest engagement rate of 11.18%.
Chelsea midfielder Kante is actually the only Premier League player to make it into the top 10. He sits in eighth position, just ahead of France team-mate Paul Pogba, who has more followers, but a smaller growth rate, engagement rate and value per post.
Pogba, whose individual posts are worth £356,000 to brands, is facing a race against time to be fit for Qatar after it was confirmed he will return from a knee injury just 10 days before the start of the tournament.
Spain’s midfield starlet Gavi has been named as the biggest breakthrough player set to appear at the World Cup. The 18-year-old has 6.2million Instagram followers, a 5165% increase in the last year.
Summer moves to Barcelona and Manchester United have helped Brazilian pair Raphinha and Antony sit second and third respectively on the list of breakthrough players.
The most popular team account is that of reigning world champions France, who have 11.7 million followers. In Les Bleus’ squad, Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Kante and Pogba all make the top 10 players list.
England’s 8.5 million followers rank them fourth, behind Brazil (11.5 million) and Portugal (10.4million).
Ronaldo’s pull is emphasised by the fact that 86% of Portugal’s fans come from outside of the country – the largest percentage in the top 10. England are second in that regard, with 79% of their supporters hailing from elsewhere.
In the Three Lions’ squad, Jadon Sancho has been recognised as the most influential player on Instagram. The Manchester United winger has 8.9 million followers, a 21% increase in the last year, and can earn brands £246,000 per post.
However, Sancho faces a battle to be picked by Gareth Southgate this winter. The 22-year-old has played just 73 minutes in an England shirt since his missed his penalty in the Euro 2020 final and is not in the squad for this month’s Nations League fixtures against Italy and Germany.
England’s breakthrough player according to Gracenote is Jack Grealish, who now has 5.3 million followers. The follower count of understudy goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has also shot up over the last year, seeing an increase of 920%.
Instagram’s most influential footballers
(Based on Nielsen’s media value total rankings)
- Cristiano Ronaldo – 480m followers
- Lionel Messi – 360m followers
- Neymar – 178m followers
- Kylian Mbappe – 72.5m followers
- Vinicius Jr. – 23m followers
- Karim Benzema – 58m followers
- Paulo Dybala – 49m followers
- N’Golo Kante – 14m followers
- Paul Pogba – 55m followers
- Sergio Ramos – 53m followers