The annual Red Card report by Shanghai-based sports digital consultancy Mailman found Jose Mourinho’s side are the best-performing club for the second year in a row despite their lack of recent Premier League success.
United are followed in the list by European champions Real Madrid and Germany’s Bayern Munich.
Anthony Martial is the third most popular player in China, behind only Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with United midfielder Paul Pogba and former captain Wayne Rooney completing the top five.
The report, which used eight different performance indicators, places the Bundesliga ahead of the Premier League as the number one European football league online.
“With over 107 million followers, China is one of Manchester United’s most important markets and we have a long history of innovation and fan engagement in the region,” Phil Lynch, United’s chief executive of media, said in the report.
“Through data analysis, geo-specific content creation and on-the-ground activities, we continue to be the most-followed football club on China’s major social media platforms: Sina Weibo and WeChat.
“We are honoured to receive the Red Card award for the second consecutive year and we are excited about the ongoing opportunities to innovate and build our brand, allowing our fans in China to interact with the club and our products.”
United have long boasted an enormous international following, with 72 million followers on Facebook and 17 million on Twitter.
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