The study conducted by the Alan Turing Institute in association with Ofcom in the first half of last season found that Ronaldo received 12,520 abusive tweets in that time, while Maguire received 8,954 — nearly 6,400 more than the next player on the list, Marcus Rashford.
Eight of the 10 players who endured the worst backlash played for United last season — Ronaldo, Maguire, Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and David De Gea — when they finished sixth in the league and failed to qualify for the Champions League.
The other two players in the top 10 are Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane, fifth in the list with 2,127 abusive tweets directed at him, and Jack Grealish, who signed for Manchester City in a British-record £100 million deal last year and received 1,538 hateful posts.
The study, which aimed to reveal the level of animosity footballers face on social media, found there was a peak in activity when Ronaldo signed for United from Juventus last August and when Maguire posted an apology in the aftermath of his side’s derby defeat to City in November.
Ronaldo has made headlines this summer after submitting a transfer request to leave Old Trafford, while Maguire has been booed by United and England fans in recent months, with his club manager Erik ten Hag saying that the only way he could beat those critics was through his performances.
Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom’s group director for broadcasting and online content, said: “These findings shed light on a dark side to the beautiful game.
“Online abuse has no place in sport, nor in wider society, and tackling it requires a team effort.”
The study involved analysis of 2.3 million tweets, of which nearly 60,000 were found to be abusive. Seven in 10 Premier League players were found to be victims of online abuse.