The perennial battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi takes on many forms.
On the field, the revered duo have been hotly contesting the game’s biggest individual awards for the best part of fifteen years.
Their unrelenting goal scoring habits only seem to spur each other on, and they have risen into the elite bracket of global sports stars as a result of their unparalleled success.
Both players carry immense commercial value.
With mind-boggling salaries being propped up by brand sponsorships and many other streams of revenue, they are two of the wealthiest sports people in the world.
However, there is something about Ronaldo and his CR7 brand that seems to lend itself to a social media audience.
And that pervading feeling seems to have been validated in a study conducted by CRO Agency LoveUX.
The study has revealed the 30 footballers who earned the most from Instagram posts in the 2020/21 season.
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Rather unsurprisingly, Ronaldo tops the list having earned £15.85m from 32 sponsored Instagram posts, which is roughly £7.4m more than Messi (£8.46m) pocketed during the same period.
That Messi accumulated his earnings over 24 posts gives him an average post worth of roughly £352k, whereas each post from Ronaldo was worth in the region of £495k.
The Portuguese superstar does, however, have 80 million more followers than the extra-terrestrial Argentine.
Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba make up the rest of the top five, while Gareth Bale sneaks into 30th place with the least number of sponsored posts (2) on the list.
The yawning gap between Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and the rest of the players speaks volumes about the extent of their superstar status.
There is the best part of a £5.5m jump from Ibrahimovic in fourth place to Neymar in third despite the fact the Brazilian produced just two more sponsored posts than the Swede.
One thing that jumps out when scanning through the list is the absence of defenders.
Marcelo is the only defender inside the top-19 players before Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Thiago Silva all appear in the top-25.
Take a look at the ranking in descending order below:
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (£15,851,742)
2. Lionel Messi (£8,463,635)
3. Neymar (£7,737,057)
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (£2,277,130)
5. Paul Pogba (£1,763,620)
6. Robert Lewandowski (£1,154,910)
7. Antoine Griezmann (£1,131,375)
8. Marcelo (£906,521)
9. Luis Suarez (£776,928)
10. Paulo Dybala (£722,184)
11 Dani Alves (£692,427)
12. James Rodriguez (£544,453)
13. Ivan Rakitic (£513,252)
14. Karim Benzema (£438,697)
15. Mo Salah (£398,048)
16. Kylian Mbappe (£362,358)
17. Gabriel Jesus (£310,886)
18. Toni Kroos (£309,245)
19. Harry Kane (£255,357)
20. Sergio Ramos (£254,204)
21. Thiago Silva (£234,193)
22. Thomas Muller (£229,387)
23. Raphael Varane (£224,427)
24. Kevin De Bruyne (£198,495)
25. Miralem Pjanic (£197,179)
26. Raheem Sterling (£194,556)
27. Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen (£192,798)
28. Radamel Falcao (£181,686)
29. Ricardo Quaresma (£175,589)
30. Gareth Bale (£166,951)