Neymar has been a big talking point in 2019 for a number of reasons. He remains enormously popular as ever, but his failed return to Barcelona from PSG dominated transfer headlines all summer. There have also been more injury problems to talk about, as well as criticism.
Messi, the Ballon d’Or winner for a record breaking sixth time earlier this month, has been the second most tweeted about male athlete in 2019, ahead of Ronaldo, who is third on the list.
Football is the world’s most popular sport and so it is unsurprising that it is three footballers who are being talked about more in 2019 than those from every other sport.
Basketball takes over at that point, with three huge names from the NBA in fourth, fifth and sixth. Kobe Bryant retired back in 2016, but he is still the sixth most tweeted about male athlete of the year. Ahead of him are Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers in fifth and Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers in fourth.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who won a record sixth Super Bowl in February 2019 and then joined Twitter a month later, is seventh on the list.
Alt Text: 2019 Top male athletes worldwide
2. Lionel Messi
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
4. LeBron James
5. Kawhi Leonard
6. Kobe Bryant
7. Tom Brady
8. Kylian Mbappe
9. Keisuke Honda
10. Antonio Brown
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) December 9, 2019
Fellow NFL star Antonio Brown, who has commanded a lot of attention owing to his trade away from the Pittsburgh Steelers and high profiles releases from the Oakland Raiders and the aforementioned Patriots – all this year, is 10th.
The eighth and ninth spots on the ‘most tweeted about’ list belong to footballers. In eighth place is PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, who is already a global superstar of epic magnitude, despite still being just over a week shy of his 21st birthday.
The ninth ‘most tweeted about’ male athlete of 2019 is more surprisingly Keisuke Honda. The 33-year-old left Melbourne Victory for Vitesse Arnhem this year, but it is his near God-like status at home in Japan, a country of nearly 130m people, that is likely the reason behind his inclusion.
The equivalent female list has a wider spread of sports, but it is again a footballer who is top, with Megan Rapinoe the ‘most tweeted about’ female athlete of 2019. The USWNT star won the Women’s World Cup, has become an outspoken public figure over equal rights and has been recognised for her on-field achievements with numerous individual awards.
International teammate Alex Morgan is fourth, while Brazil legend Marta is seventh. Tennis stars Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Maria Sharapova also feature in the top 10, as do WWE wrestlers Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey, and gymnasts Simon Biles and Katelyn Ohashi.
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