Football players with the most followers on Instagram

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 10.10.2021.

Football players with the most followers on Instagram

Instagram followers might be the metric on which most football purists would look down with sheer disinterest and disgust but it’s undeniable they are a valuable unit of measurement in the modern game. Some individuals exceed the digital footprint of the centuries-old clubs that they play with and the internet is used as a battleground for gaining new fans and hence profits. Simply enough, players with the most followers on Instagram are able to turn the fans to a new club they join which in turn helps the club earn more money both from sponsorships and from merchandise sales.

With the numbers also showing just how much our beloved sport dominates others and have figures topping the social media rankings. Honourable mentions go to two retired legends, Ronaldinho and David Beckham. With the latter worthy of a fourth-place finish on this list if didn't include only active players. Fashion icon Beckham is actually the 38th most followed profile globally with 68.9 million people, while the Brazilian is 49th with 59 million and would be fifth-placed amongst footballers.

Here are the top 10 active football players who have the most followers on Instagram in descending order. The numbers are accurate as of October 2021.

10. Paulo Dybala - 44.3 million followers

Possibly the second-most surprising inclusion on this list as Paulo Dybala has yet to fulfil his potential in the footballing game. While also coming from a country with a host of talented players who have been at the top level for far longer, like Sergio Aguero or Angel di Maria, which should cause some fan dilution. Dybala also didn't change many clubs, going from Instituto in Argentina to Palermo and then to Juventus. The 27-year-old possibly has a younger-audience appeal with his trademark masked celebration, while the female Instagram users also being a reason why he is placed so high as the forward does get a lot of compliments from the ladies. The cute dogs certainly do help too.

9. Mohamed Salah - 44.3 million followers

Equal so far with the Argentinian Dybala is Mohamed Salah, backed by the fanaticism of his Egyptian supporters that hijack any online vote there is to support their athletes. The best that the country produced has 44.3 million followers also thanks to his army from Anfield, but as well as leaving a big mark at Roma and Basel in Switzerland. With only 769 posts, he has far fewer than Dybala at 1,196 and the two take the 95th and 96th spots in terms of followers overall. Aged 29, the Egyptian has a contract until 2023 and could make a significant sporting and commercial asset for other world-class clubs.

8. Gareth Bale - 45.1 million followers

Despite having only 57 appearances over the last two seasons and only four goals in the Real Madrid shirt over that period, Gareth Bale is still putting out social media metrics of a superstar. One that he was supposed to be on the level of Cristiano, yet his Real days turned sour sometime ago due to injuries and what was labelled as disinterest in the club. A loan return to Tottenham last season boosted Bale's Instagram metrics as Spurs fans were reminded of how important he was to the club. Being a Welsh hero helps too as Bale has arguably the least interesting content among his 957 posts, mostly uploading only generic photos from games. Ranking 90th in the world amongst all profiles bar that of Instagram itself.

7. James Rodriguez - 47.2 million followers

A Colombian heartthrob nowadays more than a footballer, as James Rodriguez moved to low-level Qatari side Al-Rayyan recently. Yet the 30-year-old social media numbers are still high as the avalanche starting after the tremendous World Cup 2014 made Rodriguez a bonafide South America superstar. With the attacking midfielder playing across different leagues and countries helping a lot to boost his Instagram followers numbers. Rodriguez played for the domestic team Envigado, then the Argentine side Banfield, then Porto, Monaco, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Everton. Sitting now at exactly 1,000 posts, the Colombian is 81st worldwide, just below Michelle Obama.

6. Sergio Ramos - 48.2 million followers

Another player that is beloved by actual fans of his footballing work but also by millions of women admiring his form. Sergio Ramos represented Sevilla at a young age, yet few of the fans from Andalusia are keen on following him with the bulk of his followers Real Madrid and Spain supporters. Supplemented by his recent move to Paris Saint-Germain where his French contingency grew and put him almost level with the Spiderman, Tom Holland, as the centre-back is 77th most-followed Instagram profile in the world.

5. Marcelo - 49.3 million followers

Certainly the biggest surprise amongst the included footballers with the most Instagram followers. And that is not a dig on Marcelo's footballing skill as he was for the longest time the best left-back in the world. Marcelo Vieira also played for only Fluminense and Real Madrid in his career, while his success with Brazil haven't been strong enough to make him a national hero. The 33-year-old has made 2,528 posts on his account and globally, across all branches of public life he is 71st on the planet at this metric.

4. Zlatan Ibrahimović - 50 million followers

Arguably football’s most peculiar and humorous personality, the 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fifth amongst footballers with most Instagram followers. His 819 posts and his trademark unapologetic personality have placed him 66th in the world globally, above movie star Leonardi DiCaprio and the account of the Premier League itself. Zlatan was quite the nomad during his long career, even touching down in the United States. Yet his frequent moves might've made his follower gathering even harder as he did play for several rivals, Juventus, Inter, and Milan, with only the latter rejoicing him. Malmo, Ajax, Barcelona, Manchester United, and LA Galaxy are all the clubs that Ibra represented while also being a Swedish and Balkan icon as well.

3. Neymar - 162 million followers

A massive rise in the followers comes at number three where Neymar is representing football over the likes of Robert Downey Junior, NBA, Justin Timberlake, Shawn Mendes, NASA, Shakira, LeBron James, Rihanna, and many others. Ranked globally at 16th, just bellow his former sponsors at Nike. Aged 29, Neymar is perhaps the first wonderkid who came up with the power of the internet boosting the mystique. A Brazilian icon, despite not bringing home the World Cup, Neymar also got support from Santos, Barcelona, and PSG fans.

2. Lionel Messi - 273 million followers

The quiet, unopposing Lionel Messi doesn't seem like the prototype of what Instagram loves, yet his football did the talking. Playing for Barcelona and Argentina almost exclusively until his recent transfer to PSG, Messi's fans come from all walks of life and with all kinds of allegiances. Ranked fourth in the world when it comes to most Instagram followers, Messi has Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Selena Gomez, and Ariana Grande below him in the rankings. With only 787 posts which are mostly sporting and familial in nature, with usually weak brand photos of his own line.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo - 353 million followers

The undeniable king of Instagram! Not just in the competition with his fellow footballers, Cristiano Ronaldo has the most followers on Instagram than any other profile. Between him and Messi are only Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Kylie Jenner, yet both far removed from CR7 and soon to be overtaken by Messi who joined a new club in a new country.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the perfect machine for football but also for Instagram. With his longevity, he kept his relevance throughout the years and clubs like Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus. With his return to United becoming the most-liked Instagram post by a sports team with 13 million likes!

Ronaldo is also an absolute hero for Portugal, winning two trophies with his country and breaking countless records too. While the freak professional keeps his body in perfect shape with no holding back in showing it, just as many Instagram scrollers like it. His effect on the social media of Juve was stunning when he moved there three years ago and the Italian club is only one of four teams in the top 100 overall.



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