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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

‘No player is bigger than the club’. They are in China.

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

‘No player is bigger than the club’. The adage has been used by countless football managers over the years, but you’ll have a hard time convincing Chinese fans that it rings true.

Footage emerged on Monday of Real Madrid arriving in China. Rafael Benitez, Sergio Ramos, and Gareth Bale all walk through to the apparent disinterest of the Chinese faithful before Cristiano Ronaldo then emerges to cheering and catcalls.  His popularity on Chinese social media in comparison to his galactico team mates is similarly skewed in his favour; 11.5 million Weibo followers to teammate Gareth Bales’ 1 million. Even Real Madrid only have 4 million followers.

Los Blancos are taking on the Rossoneri of Milan in Shanghai tomorrow, marking the culmination of this year’s International Champions Cup, but such is the hype around the current Ballon d’Or holder that it makes you wonder, just how much of Real Madrid’s popularity centres around Ronaldo?

Since July 2nd, AC Milan’s Sina Weibo following has grown by over 37,000 to where it currently stands today; at 2.3 million followers. This growth is greater than any other football club and Real Madrid have only gained 3,596 in the same time.

So are AC Milan a more popular team in China than Real Madrid? Quite possibly. Despite Madrid having considerably more followers, the statistics below indicate that AC Milan fans seem more forthcoming in expressing their support for the team online, rather than being inactive fans.

Although the stadium will undoubtedly be full of Madrid and Ronaldo supporters tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the Milan fans who were singing louder.

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