LONDON: Cristiano Ronaldo – Champions League winner and record top scorer with Real Madrid – has now been hailed as the most marketable footballer in the world.

Rankings compiled by sports marketing research outfit Repucom places Argentina’s Lionel Messi second with Spain’s Gerard Piqué – partner of pop superstar Shakira – as a surprising third,

The ranking was created using Repucom’s Celebrity DBI tool which measures the perceptions of over 6,500 people in 13 international markets, representing the views of more than 1.5 billion people.

Globally, 83.9pc of respondents know of the Portuguese star and in markets such as Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey and Argentina, this figure is above 95pc. Ronaldo is also seen as the best trendsetter of all the players with 82.5 saying he reflects today’s trends in society.

Four-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi ranked in second and as the world’s best paid player, with earnings of around $27.5m per year, the Argentine’s endorsement and likeability scores continue to rank him highly.

Paul Smith, founder and ceo of Repucom said: “With just over two weeks to go before the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off, the world’s gaze is firmly on the competing teams and players. The World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world and as such, big brands, official partners or otherwise, will and are using its global appeal to drive sales.

“Endorsements of celebrities and in this case footballers have an incredibly powerful way of doing just that creating an emotional connection with a brand. The star can raise awareness and create a buzz for brands and products at a time when breaking through the marketing clutter that surrounds such huge events is critical for commercial success.

“Ronaldo is an endorser’s dream. His value is as important to the teams he plays for as they are for the companies that endorse him. Global awareness of Ronaldo is what drives his commercial power and with over 82 million facebook likes and 26 million Twitter followers, he is also one of the most liked in the business.”

The list (Source: Repucom):