Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar: Which footballers earned the most money from Instagram in 2021?

Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi: Footballers earning big cheques through Instagram.

The unrelenting battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi has spilled over into the world of social media.

But this time, it is pretty clear who the winner is.

It comes as no surprise that some of the world’s biggest and best sports stars are raking in stacks of cash on Instagram.

Ronaldo, for example, is one of the most adored footballers in the world, boasting a whopping 389m followers on Instagram.

But while their insane salaries might make them some of the highest-paid athletes ever, the Portuguese striker is one of several footballers who is starting to earn more money through Instagram than some Premier League players make in a year.

Digital growth agency Love UX have provided us with an insight into how much the world’s best footballers get paid through the social media platform.

Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Man Utd.

Conducting a study into the figures, the agency has revealed a list of the 20 highest paid footballers from Instagram posts in 2021.

The list includes recognisable names from the modern era and from years gone by, including footballing legends David Beckham and Ronaldinho, whose global stardom has rocketed them up the ladder past several other big names.

Take a look at the definitive list below…

20. Alex Morgan – £451,262
Boasting a whopping 9.4m followers on Instagram, United States women’s national team star Morgan made over £450k in 2021 through partnerships with brands like iFit and STATSports.

19. Zinedine Zidane – £509,307
The former Real Madrid boss is the only football manager to be included on the list and while he likes to show off his padel tennis skills on his Instagram page, Zidane often links up with Adidas to promote new advertising campaigns for the sports brand.

GiveMeSport Giveaway.


18. Raphael Varane – £548,993
World Cup winner Varane had 19 sponsored posts in 2021, including advertisements for cryptocurrency trading site and clothing brand BOSS.

17. Ivan Rakitic – £633,613
Another player who has endorsed cryptocurrency websites in the past is Croatian midfielder Rakitic, who, per Goal, took a £4m pay cut to join Sevilla from Barcelona in 2021.

It’s clear he’s making a fair bit of that back now through social media.

16. Karim Benzema – £775,340
According to Marca, Benzema earns $180k per week playing for Spanish giants Real Madrid but sits at a rather lowly 16th in this list, considering he is currently one of the most prolific goal scorers in world football.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema.

15. Kylian Mbappe – £861,230
The French wonder-kid is likely to be moving to Real Madrid this summer and had one of the highest post-to-earning ratios on this list, earning over £107k from each of his eight posts in 2021.

14. Paulo Dybala – £965,697
Argentinian wizard Dybala also has a large following on Instagram and as an Adidas ambassador, regularly posting images promoting gear embroidered with the famous three stripes.

13. Dani Alves – £1,049,395
Alves, who celebrated his 38th birthday last May, became the oldest player to play for Barcelona during their 1-1 draw against Granada on Saturday. He is also the first player on the list to have earned over £1m from Instagram in 2021.

Dani Alves.

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12. James Rodriguez – £1,081,056
Former Everton star Rodriguez left a bad taste for the Toffees when he left the club for Qatari side Al-Rayyan in 2021 but managed to cash in on over £1m from just 12 Instagram posts.

11. Antoine Griezmann – £1,142,714
Griezmann was another player who controversially swapped clubs last year, returning to Atletico Madrid from Barcelona.

And while the French international took little time in re-opening his goal-scoring account for the Colchoneros, netting three times in his first 11 games for the club, he also raked in over £1.1m from social media posts.

Antoine Griezmann for Atletico Madrid.

10. Marcelo – £1,183,592
Marcelo is another of Real Madrid’s highest earners, and it seems the Los Blancos captain has also been making a nice side-earning on social media, breaking the top ten for the Instagram football rich list.

9. Luis Suarez – £1,653,303
From nutrition brands to blockchain companies, former Liverpool striker Suarez has been paid to endorse a variety of brands to his 42.7m Instagram followers over the past year.

8. Robert Lewandowski – £1,656,467
Poland striker Lewandowski has much fewer followers compared to many other players on this list, but he has still managed to reach eighth place in the leaderboard, banking over £1.6m from social media.

Robert Lewandowski for Bayern Munich.

7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – £1,739,991
It appears one of the biggest personalities in football is also one of social media’s greatest earners, with Ibrahimovic posting several paid partnerships on his Instagram feed, including an advertising campaign for electronics producer Samsung.

6. Paul Pogba – £2,599,071
It comes as a surprise that Pogba didn’t break into the top five, but he does surpass sporting legends LeBron James and Khabib Nurmagomedov for his 2021 Instagram earnings.

5. David Beckham – £2,742,894
Fame and stardom closely followed David Beckham throughout his career and it’s easy to see why he is one of the biggest earners on Instagram, being the face of several international brands while also owning Inter Miami CF.

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4. Ronaldinho – £3,013,577
After going to prison in 2020, the Brazilian certainly turned things around in 2021, opening a music studio, starting an organic gin brand and, oh yes, making £3m through partnerships on social media.

3. Neymar – £12,382,070
Neymar completes the top three of the rankings, but there is a vast gulf in Instagram earnings between the striker and those below him.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward also notably signed a new deal £22m deal with PUMA last year, ending his 15-year contract with Nike, which featured on his feed often in 2021.

2. Lionel Messi – £17,192,420
While Messi’s Instagram cheque is nothing to be sniffed at, the Argentinian has been bested by his old rival Ronaldo, who tops football’s Instagram rich list.

Despite that, Messi still had a seriously lucrative 2021 and while he signed a new contract with PSG worth around £30m per year in the summer, he also made an eye-watering £409k for each Instagram advert he posted.

Leo Messi playing for PSG.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – £19,119,972
Considering the stature of the CR7 brand, it’s no surprise that Ronaldo tops the charts to become the highest-paid footballer on Instagram.

The Man United forward received over £562m for each post he issued to his 389m followers last year, with the Portuguese star advertising partnerships with brands including Herbalife, Therabody, and lifetime sponsors Nike.

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