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Cristiano Ronaldo beats Lionel Messi to become the most influential player on Instagram

Ronaldo has beaten arch-rival Lionel Messi to top a list prepared by sport media analysts Nielsen.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi

With the Fifa World Cup starting in just two months, Portugal and Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo is all set to go into the tournament as the most powerful player in the world in terms of his social media influence.

The Portugal star has beaten arch-rival Lionel Messi to top a list prepared by sport media analysts Nielsen. The Instagram followings of all of the top players and teams set to take part in Qatar were assessed to discover who is the most influential football star online.

The rankings were created using Nielsen’s tailor-made influencer metric which was based on Instagram measurements taken from August 2021 to July 2022,. It takes into consideration various key performance indicators (KPIs), such as an Instagram account’s total followers, follower growth rate, content engagement rate and average brand value per post (commercial value for the brand to associate with the player).

With all the relevant data crunched, Ronaldo emerged as the most influential star in the World Cup with a fairly comfortable margin between himself and his rivals, proving that the 37-year-old is the fan favourite in the football world.

As well as the most powerful players set to appear at the World Cup, Nielsen has also created rankings for the most powerful men’s national teams, as well as a separate ranking for the tournament’s most powerful young breakthrough stars — i.e. the players with the biggest growth surge on social media over the last year.

As one of the most famous footballers of all time it’s perhaps not surprising to find that Ronaldo commands a vast legion of approximately 480 million followers on Instagram alone, an enormous total that has swollen by around 47% in the past year since his return to Man United, with each post carrying an estimated value of around $3,585,218.

While lagging behind his eternal rival in the battle for Instagram supremacy, Messi boasts a perfectly respectable follower count of around 360 million, the result of a similarly impressive growth rate of 38% over the past 12 months — during which time he left Barcelona for PSG. It is also calculated that each of the 35-year-old’s posts carry a hefty brand value of $2,631,388.

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