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Who is the most popular and famous soccer player in the world?

09:23 SAST 2023/01/03
Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi social media
It's the battle of the social media GOATs!

Probably one of the biggest differences between soccer in the early years of this century and now is the influence of social media.

While soccer stars have always had a reputation for living glorious lifestyles, the rise of various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok in the last decade has given fans direct access to their favourite players and their lives.

What this has meant is that the following and fandom of players has also increased manifold as these platforms help players engage with their fans in a personal fashion.

And it's fair to say we've seen many colourful social media posts from soccer players over the years!

From the below captivating post by Cristiano Ronaldo to Gerard Pique's now infamous 'Se Queda' post over Neymar's exit from Barcelona, there have been some legendary moments by soccer stars on social media.

In fact, the fandom on social media is such that many star footballers are more popular than the leaders of their country!

Let's take a look at some of the most popular soccer players in the world as of January 2023, across various social media platforms.

  • Zlatan-Milan

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic | AC Milan | 110.3 million followers

    'Lions' don't heal like humans, but do they enjoy social media fame like humans? Judging by the ageless Zlatan Ibrahimovic's popularity, it definitely looks like it!

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    39 million

    Instagram

    57.3 million

    Twitter

    8.9 million

    TikTok

    5.1

  • James Rodriguez - Colombia

    James Rodriguez | Al Rayyan | 110.7 million followers

    The Colombian might not be playing in the elite leagues anymore, having joined Qatari outfit Al Rayyan in 2021, but the former Real Madrid attacking midfielder is still one of the most popular soccer players on social media.

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    36 million

    Instagram

    50.3 million

    Twitter

    19 million

    TikTok

    5.4 million

  • Marcelo Real Madrid Cibeles

    Marcelo | Brazil | 114.1 million followers

    Former Real Madrid left-back Marcelo Vieira is a highly decorated soccer player but he is also an entertainer by nature.

    His fun antics on social media and even on the pitch make him a popular figure among fans and that is evident in his social media following.

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    28 million

    Instagram

    60.5 million

    Twitter

    12.7 million

    TikTok

    12.9 million

  • Karim Benzema

    Karim Benzema | Real Madrid | 125.5 million followers

    Karim Benzema is the hottest striker in the game right now and the Real Madrid star is also one of the hottest soccer players on social media.

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    43 million

    Instagram

    63.6 million

    Twitter

    18.9 million

    TikTok

    N/A

  • Sergio Ramos Nantes PSG 31072022

    Sergio Ramos | Paris Saint-Germain | 125.5 million followers

    The former Real Madrid skipper, now at PSG, has been one of the best defenders in his era.

    A born leader, Ramos is still one of the most popular social media figures in soccer.

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    38 million

    Instagram

    54.9 million

    Twitter

    19.8 million

    TikTok

    12.8 million

  • David Beckham 2022 Miami Grand Prix

    David Beckham | England | 134.6 million followers

    Becks was a cult figure even when social media was almost non-existent.

    The former Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and AC Milan star was a truly global icon of the game who commanded huge popularity.

    His fashion choices were replicated all over the world at one point and the former England captain was probably one of the most marketable faces in soccer.

    No wonder he continues to be one of the most popular soccer players on social media even now.

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    56 million

    Instagram

    76.7 million

    Twitter

    N/A

    TikTok

    1.9

  • Ronaldinho 2005

    Ronaldinho | Brazil | 159.6 million followers

    One of the most celebrated soccer players of his time, Ronaldinho was an icon.

    The Brazilian World Cup winner played for the likes of PSG, Barcelona, and AC Milan, winning the Ballon d'Or in 2005.

    Though his exploits came before the advent of social media, Ronaldinho's impact was such that he is still one of the most popular social media figures of the game.

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    55 million

    Instagram

    70.7 million

    Twitter

    21.4 million

    TikTok

    12.5

  • Neymar PSG 2022-23

    Neymar | Paris Saint-Germain | 379.1 million followers

    Neymar is an entertainer, be it on the field or off the field.

    One of the most talented soccer stars of this era, Neymar makes his mark on social media too, giving fans a glimpse of the larger-than-life image of him.

    Interestingly, the Brazilian had about 8 million followers on TikTok before he left the platform in 2020.

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    90 million

    Instagram

    200 million

    Twitter

    60.9 million

    TikTok

    28.2

  • Lionel Messi Clermont-PSG

    Lionel Messi | Paris Saint-Germain | 526 million followers

    Lionel Messi, one of the best soccer stars of all time, is not too bad on the social media game too.

    Despite not having an official Twitter or TikTok account, Messi has more than 450 million followers. Not bad, right?

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    112 million

    Instagram

    414 million

    Twitter

    N/A

    TikTok

    N/A

  • Cristiano Ronaldo Al-Nassr

    Cristiano Ronaldo | Al-Nassr | 791.6 million followers

    Ronaldo is the absolute GOAT of soccer social media.

    He's not just clear of the competition overall, but there's nobody even close to him on a single platform.

    Hats off to the Manchester United star's game off the pitch.

    Platform

    Fans

    Facebook

    158 million

    Instagram

    527 million

    Twitter

    106.6 million

    TikTok

    N/A

  • Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 2022-23

    Top 10 most popular soccer players of all time

    Player

    Followers

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    791.6 million

    Lionel Messi

    526 million

    Neymar

    379.1 million

    Ronaldinho

    159.6 million

    David Beckham

    134.6 million

    Sergio Ramos

    125.5 million

    Karim Benzema

    125.5 million

    Marcelo

    114.1 million

    James Rodriguez

    110.7 million

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic

    110.3 million