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Cristiano Ronaldo named the most influential player on Instagram at the World Cup with 481 million followers

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named the strongest footballer to watch at this year’s World Cup on Instagram.

The Manchester United striker has 480million followers on the social media platform – more than any other player set to star in Qatar.

His individual contributions are also the most valuable to brands, with each contribution being worth a staggering £3.1million.

The analysis was conducted by statistics company Nielsen Gracenote, which evaluated players’ total number of followers, follower growth over the past year, engagement rate, and average brand value per post on Instagram.

Ronaldo’s followers have increased by almost 47% in the last year and he has a 2.25% engagement rate on posts.

The Portuguese superstar places ahead of his longtime rival Lionel Messi, who has 360million followers and an individual post value of £2.3million.

The Argentinian’s Paris Saint-Germain team-mates Neymar (178million followers) and Kylian Mbappe (72.5million) are third and fourth respectively, with their individual posts each being worth just over £1million.

In the top 10, Brazilian striker Vinicius Junior – who scored the winning goal in last year’s Champions League final – saw the biggest follower growth at 89.69%, while Frenchman N’Golo Kante had the biggest engagement at 11.18% rate listed.

Chelsea midfielder Kante is actually the only Premier League player to make the top 10. He sits in eighth place, just ahead of French teammate Paul Pogba, who has more followers but a lower growth rate, engagement rate and value per post.

Pogba, whose individual posts are worth £356,000, faces a race against time to be fit for Qatar after it was confirmed he will be returning from a knee injury just 10 days before the start of the tournament.

Spain’s star midfielder Gavi has been named the biggest breakthrough player to emerge at the World Cup. The 18-year-old has 6.2 million Instagram followers, up 5165% over the past year.

Summer moves to Barcelona and Manchester United have helped Brazilians Raphinha and Antony finish second and third on the list of breakthrough players.

The most popular team account is that of reigning world champions France with 11.7 million followers. Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Kante and Pogba are all in the top 10 players list.

With 8.5 million followers, England ranks fourth behind Brazil (11.5 million) and Portugal (10.4 million).

Ronaldo’s appeal is underscored by the fact that 86% of Portuguese fans are from abroad – the largest percentage in the top 10. England come second in this regard, with 79% of their fans hailing from other countries.

In the Three Lions squad, Jadon Sancho has been recognized as the most influential player on Instagram. The Manchester United winger has 8.9million followers, up 21% over the past year, and rakes in £246,000 per branded post.

However, Sancho faces a battle this winter that will have to be fought by Gareth Southgate. The 22-year-old has played just 73 minutes in an England shirt since his missed penalty in the Euro 2020 final and is not included in the squad for this month’s Nations League games against Italy and Germany.

England’s breakthrough player according to Gracenote is Jack Grealish, who now has 5.3 million. Understudy goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale’s follower count has also skyrocketed over the past year, posting a 920% increase.

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