There are billions of sports fans around the world and as 700 + million of us actively use Instagram every month, there is a huge opportunity for fans to get closer to their favourite athletes.
At PledgeSports, we work with athletes to raise money, but also raise their online profile and make them more attractive to sponsors and endorsements. However, the list of 10 athletes below is on a whole other level to every other athlete when it comes to social media presence.
Here’s a countdown of the 10 Most Followed Athletes On Instagram as of January 2021
11. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 46.2 million
The man. The myth. The legend. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Zlatan The Great has given a boost to every league he has played in.
A fan favourite at each of his past clubs, it’s no surprise the big Swede has made our most followed athletes on Instagram list. Here’s hoping the 35-year-old’s career isn’t over just yet.
10. Gareth Bale – 43.7 million
Who ever could have predicted a Welshman would be one of the most followed athletes on Instagram?!
With over 30 million followers, Bale is an example of what it means to be a great pro in today’s game. He was worthy of his big-money move to Madrid back in 2013 and his hard work has continued to boost his profile worldwide.
9. Marcelo Vieira Jr – 46.2
Marcelo Vieira da Silva Júnior, known as Marcelo, is a Brazilian professional footballer for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Brazil national team. The 31 year super star is sponsored by Adidas.
8. James Rodriguez – 46.6 million
Like Ronaldinho, James Rodriguez’s entry at No.6 on our list of most followed athletes on Instagram may raise a few eyebrows, but believe us, it’s true.
Rodriguez has been the topic of transfer speculation after being left out of Real Madrid’s squad for the 2017 Champions League final, but at least he has nearly 35 million fans to console him.
7. Ronaldinho – 53.5 million
The former Ballon d’Or winner’s popularity will never die.
The enigma that is Ronaldinho is perhaps one of the more surprising entries on our list of most followed athletes on Instagram, but just like in his prime, the tricky Brazilian has a habit of sneaking into spaces many other could not.
6. David Beckham – 65.2 million
I guess relatively new to the Instagram scene is a man we all know for both is footballing skills and his iconic personal brand, it’s of course David Beckham. With 42 million active followers and one of the few athletes with incredibly high post engagements, Beckham is a man that will be forever popular amongst men and women alike.
Becks has recently invested in an eSports business who should boost his following among gamers.
5. LeBron James – 77.6 million
King James may have just missed out on his fourth NBA Championships but he’s certainly not missed out on a place among the most followed athletes on Instagram.
Since his days as a high school internet sensation, LeBron has been insanely popular and that trend has continued right through his career. He’s the third most followed athlete on twitter.
4. Virat Kohli – 90.8
Virat Kohli is an Indian superstar cricketer who currently captains the India national team. Kohli is regarded as the best batsmen in the world today. He plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, and has been the team’s captain since 2013.
Sports business publication SportsPro featured Kohli as its highest-ranked cricketer in its annual list of the world’s most marketable athletes; it positions him four places ahead of Neymar, 20 ahead of Lewis Hamilton and 22 ahead of Mo Salah. He is rapidly rising through the ranks of this list.
3. Neymar Jr. – 145 million
Similar to LeBron James in that his rise to fame came during his teens, Neymar’s fanbase has been rapidly expanding ever since he left Brazilian outfit Santos for the bright lights of Camp Nou and more recent french side PSG, he grew his brand with the companionship of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at his side. A nailed-on future Ballon d’Or winner, we don’t expect Neymar’s ranking on our list of most followed athletes on Instagram to drop anytime soon.
2. Lionel Messi – 178 million
Probably one of the few times, if only time, Messi has finished 3rd during his illustrious Barcelona career. The Argentine is a world renowned footballing legend and a very charismatic character on and off the pitch. It’s no wonder he ranks so highly on our list.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 255 million
There are no words to describe Cristiano Ronaldo’s career, his talent, his work ethic, or his popularity. Ronaldo coming in on top of the most followed athletes on Instagram list is the least shocking piece of news you’re likely to hear today. In the same way that the grass is green and the sky is blue, Cristian Ronaldo sits pretty on top of the sporting world. Oh and he’s also the most followed athlete on twitter!
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