Just a few years ago, being famous on the internet didn’t mean too much in real life. Social networks were dismissed as “just another trend” that is going to pass.
All of those predicting social media to be just another mayfly were, in turn, very wrong – it has become a medium through which individuals and brands of all shapes and sizes interact with each other – and their followers, customers, audiences or fans – all over the world. Athletes are not an exception – they are, after all, celebrities with a major influence on their followers.
Today, let’s take a look at the three most popular football players on Instagram, one of the largest social networks today.
With almost 100 million Instagram followers, Lionel Messi is the third most followed footballer in the world, beating reality stars like Kendall Jenner and Khloé Kardashian. Messi is known as one of the best football players ever to set foot on the turf, holding several world records – like being the player with the most Ballon D’ors (5) and the only player to ever win more than one FIFA World Cup Golden Balls. He might have also been the most expensive football player ever but he never left Barcelona – he stayed with the Spanish team for his whole professional career.
Neymar, born Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, is the most expensive football player in the world today – he holds this title since his transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain in 2017. His considerable star power is confirmed by his social media following, too – he has around 102 million followers on Instagram. On average, any of his photo updates gather around 1.7 million likes.
Neymar is the third highest goalscorer for the Brazilian national team, trailing only to Pelé and Ronaldo. He is an incredibly talented player, and also a very popular one.
With more than 124 million followers, Ronaldo clearly rules Instagram, beating celebrities like Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His following is second only to that of Disney Channel actress turned singing sensation Selena Gomez, who has over 136 million followers.
Cristiano Ronaldo started his “serious” football career at Manchester United, signing with the Premier League team at the age of 18. There, he has made a name for himself as one of the greatest players ever, scoring more than 690 senior goals (and counting). At one time, he was the most expensive footballer in the world, leaving United for Real Madrid in an £80 million transaction (since then, his record was broken several times). Many of his records match those of Neymar and Pelé, and he is the only player in football history to have scored 60 or more goals in a calendar year four times during his career.