Social media is a major part of everyday life. That’s no different for the world’s most famous football players either, who put a lot of time into how they appear on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Many of the accounts will be run by a media team, but some have a more personal feel. Whether posting the best football jokes or a simple selfie, internationally famous footballers attract plenty of attention on the internet.
Social media is a tool to not only engage with fans, but can be an extra revenue stream for many on the list below. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are now lines of business for the most popular players on the planet.
Ranked by their total following across the three biggest social media platforms, here are the most followed footballers in 2021…
Cristiano Ronaldo is absolutely miles clear with almost 420 million social media followers. The Juventus forward has the sixth-most followers on Twitter and is top of the pile on Instagram and Facebook.
Ronaldo’s 122 million Facebook likes put him almost 20 million ahead of anyone else. You don't need to be the king of 888 tips and expert betting tips to know that Ronaldo is number one.
Total followers: 418 million
Brazil has a population of over 200 million. Barcelona are one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Paris Saint Germain’s support is growing. It’s a cocktail for a vast social media following, which puts Neymar ahead of Lionel Messi on this list. Neymar has 137 million Instagram followers, more than Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
Total followers: 243 million
He might be considered the greatest ever by many, but Lionel Messi is far from the king of social media, sitting nearly 200 million followers behind his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi is reserved. He doesn’t thrive the limelight. His social media activity shows that, but he’s still got 90 million likes on Facebook.
Total followers: 237 million
The first of two retired football legendson this list, David Beckham’s fame overshadows his career on the pitch.
Now the owner of an MLS franchise, Beckham has a high profile in the United States and across Europe after spells in Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris and Milan.
Beckham was a brand before the social media age. He would have topped this list if Facebook, Twitter and Instagram existed 20 years ago.
Total followers: 113 million
Few could work magic with a football like Ronaldinho. The former Ballon d’Or winner was universally loved throughout his career, playing the game with joy and tormenting opposition defences.
Ronaldinho’s footwork still goes viral to this day. He is busy on social media too, racking up over 2,000 Instagram posts to his 52 million followers.
Total followers: 105 million
James Rodriguez shot to prominence at the 2014 World Cup. The tournament alone saw a marked increase in his following, and subsequently playing for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will have helped out, too.
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Total followers: 95 million
While not always a popular figure at the Santiago Bernabeu, Gareth Bale has spent several years in the Spanish capital and been at the forefront of European glory.
That’s a combination to accumulate tens of millions of social media followers, particularly when paired with a dazzling Premier League career.
Like most on this list, the majority of Bale’s followers come from Instagram. Over half (43 million) of his 88 million total are on Insta, where he’s posted 877 times including a recent set of keepy-uppies with a golf ball.
Total followers: 88 million
The first Spaniard on this list, Andres Iniesta’s following has been boosted by his spell in Japan. Iniesta is one of the greatest midfielders of the 21st century and played in arguably the best club team of all-time.
Photo credit: Eugene Hoshiko / AP Photo
With 96.6 million engagements in 2019, however, Iniesta gets much less interaction than athletes with smaller followings like Eden Hazard and Steph Curry.
Total followers: 85 million
He’s won all there is to be won on the pitch, and while Sergio Ramos might not always be popular for his antics, he’s still collected almost 80 million social media followers.
The World Cup winner is most popular on Instagram with over 38 million followers and nearly 1,800 posts. It’s the busiest of his three accounts and involves a healthy portion of selfies.
Total followers: 78 million
With over 20 million followers on Instagram and Twitter (and over 30 million on Facebook), Mesut Ozil slots in at number 10 on this list.
A spell at Real Madrid guarantees a huge social media following, and Ozil pips fellow Madrid stars Karim Benzema, Kaka and Marcelo to the last spot here.
Despite a substantial following and the occasional viral post, Ozil is an infrequent poster and doesn’t rank in the top 30 among athletes for the most posts on any of the three platforms in 2019.
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Total followers: 77 million
Most Followed Footballers - Twitter: