Gone are the days when fans used to grow up supporting their local heroes and local teams. Thanks to football's massive global outreach football players are some of the most well-known professionals around the world and enjoy the same status as any other celebrity.
We are well and truly living in the age of social media now and just like any other normal person football players also have a presence on the 'Big Three' online platforms - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Though it might be impossible to figure out how many fans any player has, social media provides a fairly accurate metric in measuring the popularity of the player. On that note, here we take a look at the top 10 football players with the most fans across the world, based on social media followers.
All figures as on 18 September 2020
#10 Mesut Ozil - Arsenal
Total followers - 77.9 million
At number 10 in our list, we have Arsenal star Mesut Ozil, who has a massive 77.9 million fanbase across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The German playmaker has not been his best on the pitch for the last few seasons but his history with Real Madrid and success with the national team means that he remains hugely popular among fans.
The player made everyone fall in love with him with his silky moves and accurate passes in the first half of the last decade but has since given up his spot in the national team and has barely been involved in the Gunners' tumultuous campaigns.
Recently he has been vocal about his immigrant background on social media and some of his posts with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have caused some controversy over the last two years.
Here's how his 77.9 million fans are distributed across the social media -
Facebook - 30.9 million likes
Twitter - 24.9 million followers
Instagram - 22.1 million followers
#9 Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid
Total followers - 81.7 million
People online usually respond to uniqueness and passion, Sergio Ramos brings a lot of both to the table and thus enjoys a healthy fanbase of 81.7 million. The defender is fiercely competitive on the pitch and extremely active social media as well, posting over 1890 times on Instagram till date.
He has time and again done whatever it takes to get the better of his opponents but he has always delivered results. He is still one of the best defenders in Europe and thus we can only expect his following to grow in the coming years.
Here's how his 81.7 million fans are distributed across the social media -
Facebook - 23.3 million likes
Twitter - 17.6 million followers
Instagram - 40.8 million followers
#8 Andres Iniesta - Vissel Kobe
Total followers - 85.7 million
Another former La Liga player joining our list is Barcelona and Spain icon Andres Iniesta. Considered by many as one of the greatest midfielders of all-time, the La Masia academy product is a highly respected athlete and is one of the few opposition players to have received a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeu.
He is not among the most tech-savvy footballers and despite the huge following, his posts generate much less interaction than athletes with smaller followings like Eden Hazard.
Here's how his 85.7 million fans are distributed across social media -
Facebook - 26 million likes
Twitter - 24.9 million followers
Instagram - 34.8 million followers