La Liga dominates football world on Twitter
New research shows Cristiano Ronaldo & Kaka are most followed footballers
Footballers love Twitter. For whatever reason, whether it's connecting with fans, or earning money from brands, more and more footballers sign up to the social media site every week.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Neymar, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand - all Tweet, all have more than 3 million followers.
Some are more popular than others. Then again, some are more interesting than others.
It's a sad truth for Ronaldo that in a world without Messi he would be by far the best player, he would be the man on the Ballon d'Or stage. But in the online world of Twitter, the Portugal star has no such concerns - Messi is nowhere to be seen, he has no personal account, just a sponsored Adidas tribute version.
So Ronaldo leads the way with almost 16 million followers, Brazil star Kaka next with close to 13 million, before a sharp drop to the third placed footballer, Santos superstar Neymar has 5.8 million, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has 5.6 million.
And new research by Unibet has revealed some interesting links between these footballers and their Twitter accounts.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the most followed, is also the most valuable footballer with an account - the Portuguese superstar is worth more than £80m on the transfer market. But Kaka, the second most followed footballer, is one of the most undervalued - his market price estimated at between £10-£17m.
And the world's most valuable footballer, four-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, is also the most talked about - more than 2 million tweets about Messi were published in the last thirty days, even though Messi does not have an official personal account - a figure which completely blows the competition out of the water.
Ronaldo is the next most talked about player with close to 750,000. If there was only one winner in the Ballon d'Or battle between Messi and Ronaldo, then the same applies on Twitter, at least when it comes to interest generated.
Another clear take-away from the recent FIFA Ballon d'Or gala was the total dominance enjoyed by La Liga.
The entire FIFA/FIFPro World XI was made up of players from the Spanish top flight, the three candidates for the title of the world's best player were based in Spain, the winner of the Coach of the Year poll was the Spain coach, and it turns out the second and third placed coaches were La Liga managers as well, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
So when it comes to Twitter, the Spanish league dominates once again. As if to hammer home their superiority, six of the top 10 most followed players in the world, Ronaldo, Kaka, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Carles Puyol, play on the Iberian peninsula.
The Premier League, the self-styled 'best league in the world', has just two representatives, Manchester United stars Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.
South America offers up two of the most popular tweeters, the master and his apprentice, Ronaldinho and Neymar.
But giving free reign to carefully managed superstars, worth tens of millions of pounds each year, is risky business.
Joey Barton's 1.8 million followers were treated to a tirade against former club Newcastle in 2011. And Barton was left counting the cost. That little indiscretion ended up costing him £140,000. But don't worry, that's just two weeks wages.
Barton has been dealt the harshest punishment, but Darren Bent was left £80,000 out of pocket, Rio Ferdinand fined £45,000 and Carlton Cole was left £20,000 lighter. Just some of the larger fines footballers have racked up on Twitter.
But back to the lighter side of the social network. Fans love to brag about how 'big' their club is, how many trophies they've won, how much 'history' they have.
And now there's another way to measure their popularity - how many Twitter followers their club has amassed.
Somewhat predictably, La Liga leads the way - Barcelona and Real Madrid are the top two. But there's a few surprises in there as well, just three from the Premier League, and two from outside Europe.
Check out the top 10 most followed clubs here…
1. Barcelona | 7.7 million
2. Real Madrid | 6.5 million
3. Arsenal | 2.1 million
4. Galatasaray | 2.07 million
5. Chelsea | 1.7 million
6. Fenerbahce | 1.58 million
7. Liverpool | 1.4 million
8. Corinthians | 1.2 million
9. Flamengo | 974,103
10. Chivas CD | 851,715