Rooney rated China’s fifth most popular footballer amid exit speculation

Wayne Rooney has been named as China’s fifth most popular footballer, while his Manchester United side have jumped above Bayern Munich to finish top of the club rankings according to the Red Card report.

By Carlo Chikomba

The report, which in a way is pretty much the Chinese version of Opta Joe, analyses the influence of European clubs and players in China based on Weibo and the nation’s other prominent social media platforms.

This news will most certainly stir up transfer frenzy amongst Chinese football fans as there is already talks of a potential transfer for the England and Red Devils captain to the Chinese Super League.

According to the report, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo came first, with Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil second. Gareth Bale took third place and rather surprisingly, Rooney’s fellow team-mate Anthony Martial beat him to fourth position.

And the French international made no attempt to quell the suggestion that a switch to the East-Asian country could be on the cards in the future, as he lauded the Chinese fans for their passion.

“China is an exciting opportunity for me,” Martial said. “The passion from the Chinese fans is amazing and it is a great chance for me to give something back. Football is growing fast out there and I want to be more involved.”

Surprisingly though, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi failed to make the top five. Some attributed the snub to his limited social media presence in China.

On the club list – which assessed European teams online across eight different performance indicators, including social media followers and audience figures from live streams – United finished ahead of Bayern.

Three other Premier League clubs – Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City – rounded off the top five. Real Madrid, AC Milan and Tottenham were next, with Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona tying for ninth.

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