LONDON: Cristiano Ronaldo, of Real Madrid and Portugal, is the most marketable footballer in the world according to the latest rankings issued by sports marketing research company Repucom.

Repucom used its 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, to create its list of the top ten best known and trend-setting footballers.

Ronaldo's DBI score of 79.49 put him top. Globally, 83.9% of people know of him and in markets such as Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey and Argentina, this figure is above 95%. Ronaldo is also seen as the best trendsetter of all the players with 82.5% of people saying he reflects today's trends in society.

"Ronaldo is an endorser's dream," said Paul Smith, founder and CEO of Repucom. "His value is as important to the teams he plays for as they are for the companies that endorse him."

As well as the global awareness figures, his commercial power is boosted by, in May 2014, 82m Facebook likes and 26m Twitter followers: "He is also one of the most liked in the business," Smith noted.

Lionel Messi, of Barcelona and Argentina, ranked in second with a DBI score of 75.87. As the world's best paid player, with earnings of around $27.5 million per year, the Argentine's endorsement and likeability scores continue to rank him highly, said Repucom.

His Barcelona team-mate Gerard Piqué was in third place, his DBI score of 62.9 putting him just ahead of fellow Spain international player Fernando Torres on 62.7.

Wayne Rooney of Manchester United was the sole English player in the list, at fifth, with the same DBI score as Barcelona and Spain's Andrés Iniesta. The remainder, in order, were Neymar (Barcelona and Brazil), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid and Spain), Zlatan Ibrahiovic (Paris St Germain and Sweden) and Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)

With the FIFA World Cup due to start shortly, Smith observed that major brands would be 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," he said.

"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."

Data sourced from Repucom; additional content by Warc staff