Lionel Messi is one of the most accomplished and revered players ever seen in the world of football.
The Argentinian superstar has won a total of six Ballon d’Or trophies and has been crowned the European Golden Shoe winner on six occasions. Last year, he was named in the Ballon d’Or Dream Team – celebrating the best players in the game’s history.
On a team trophy level, Messi helped Barcelona to win 35 trophies during his time at the club. That included 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies.
With that sort of success, then, it’s no surprise that Messi has gained a large following, with fans around the world keen to follow his progress. Compared to many footballers, though, the forward, who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain, has a relatively quiet social media presence overall. He is active on Instagram, however.
Like other top players, not all of Messi’s follower count comprises of real accounts, according to the data. Let’s take a look at how many fake followers Messi has on Instagram and how that compares to other star names:
All data and research is courtesy of Sortlist.
How many fake followers does Lionel Messi have on Instagram?
Lionel Messi currently has a total of 274.3 million followers on Instagram. Out of that total, the 34-year-old has 63 million fake followers, according to the data. That corresponds to around 23 per cent of his overall following.
That ranks him 11th when it comes to the highest percentage of fake followers amongst sportspeople. Tennis legend Venus Williams holds the top spot. Of her 1.4 million Instagram followers, the data says that 26% of her followers are suspicious accounts.
According to the data, former basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1m followers) also has a fake follower count of 26%.
How does Lionel Messi compare to other top players with fake followers?
We’ve previously looked at the fake follower amount of Cristiano Ronaldo – one of Messi’s biggest rivals on the pitch.
Ronaldo does, in fact, have more fake followers than Messi, according to Sortlist data. Of the Portuguese icon’s 355 million Instagram following, 24% of those accounts are believed to be fake/suspicious.
The other footballers with a higher percentage of fake followers than Messi are Karim Benzema and Harry Kane (both 25%) and Gareth Bale (24%).
Messi has the same fake follower percentage as former Barca team-mate Andres Iniesta. Iniesta has around 37.7 million Instagram followers, of which 23% are believed to derive from suspicious accounts.
As mentioned when discussing Ronaldo’s fake follower count, the research is generally completed by AI software.
It takes factors into account such as an account’s followers-to-following ratio, their activities and more. That means that any audit will likely be close to, but not exactly, 100% accurate. It is not, therefore, an exact science, as accounts that may fall under some of the ‘suspicious’ categories may actually be legitimate.
Featured Image Credit: Getty