Social media is established as an important tool for self-promotion and gives footballers a large platform to communicate with their fans across the world.
Some use their platform to achieve good, such as Marcus Rashford and his Twitter campaign to end child hunger, whilst others may use it in a more negative way, such as Joleon Lescott ‘pocket tweeting’ a picture of a new car just hours after his side lost 6-0.
Footballers are increasingly addicted to Instagram, and the top players in the world have built up followings bigger than the clubs they play for.
Here are the top 10 most followed footballers on Instagram, past and present.
10. Gareth Bale
A player who was often criticised by the Spanish press for a lack of focus at Real Madrid, the Welsh superstar has 48million followers, and regularly posts content of himself on the golf course.
Bale is currently preparing for Wales’ first World Cup since 1958 by
sunning himself getting match practise with Los Angeles FC.
9. James Rodriguez
The former Real Madrid and Everton star is a household name across the globe and has an impressive 50million followers on Instagram.
Rodriguez has just signed for Olympiacos in a move that in no way indicates that his career is winding down…
8. Sergio Ramos
The Real Madrid legend, who joined PSG in the summer of 2021, has 53million followers, but endured a difficult first season in France, with just 13 appearances in all competitions.
One of the greatest defenders of all time, the idea of him playing with Lionel Messi seemed impossible. Until now.
7. Paul Pogba
Of course Pogba appears on this list; the midfielder has seemingly spent more time self-promoting himself on social media than kicking a ball around for his various clubs.
Having rejoined Juventus from Manchester United over the summer, the France international will expect to grow his 55.2million followers on Instagram over the coming months.
6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
A striker who continues to defy his age, Ibrahimovic has 52.2million followers, and even at the age of 40, just can’t resist using Instagram to show off his enormous ability (and ego).
There’s self-confidence, then there’s Zlatan.
READ: Zlatan’s thunder-kick: The goal of a man who’s almost as good as he says
Widely regarded as the greatest and most decorated left-back to ever wear the white Real Madrid jersey, Marcelo has amassed an impressive 58.2million followers on the social media platform.
The veteran defender left Spain this summer and signed for Olympiacos, the most popular club in Greece, and remains an incredibly popular figure in the footballing world.
4. Kylian Mbappe
One of the best teenagers ever, Mbappe has developed into one of the best players in the world at just the age of 23, since his breakout at AS Monaco in 2017.
Moving to PSG for over £120million, the World Cup winner rejected a move to Real Madrid this summer and his new PSG contract reportedly includes vetoes on boardroom decisions. Yikes.
Mbappe currently has 73million followers on Instagram.
3. Neymar Jr
One of the best players of his generation, and the most expensive footballer of all time, Neymar has become a household name all over the world since his emergence as a teenager at Santos FC.
With a whopping 177million followers, the Brazil superstar is enjoying life at PSG, but has been plagued by injury for the last few seasons.
If you want to feel old, Neymar is now 30. Yes, 30. The teenager from Santos is now 30. Where has the time gone?
2. Lionel Messi
Arguably the greatest player of all time, the seven-time Ballon D’or winner Lionel Messi has 358million followers. That’s higher than the population of most countries.
Messi had a difficult first season away from Barcelona after his shock transfer to PSG in the summer of 2021 but has now firmly found his feet in the French capital.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Yet another record for Ronaldo, the Manchester United star has an astonishing 477million followers, which is more than anyone else in the world, football or otherwise.
There was serious hype when he made his unexpected return to Old Trafford in the summer, but Ronaldo spends more time on the bench than on the pitch these days.
But, with 32.7 million likes, at least his recent announcement for the upcoming baby twins with his girlfriend Georgina is the second most-liked Instagram post of 2022.
READ MORE: The 10 highest-paid footballers in the world in 2022: Ronaldo 2nd, Messi 3rd…