*Published Paper*

**Inserted:** 5 aug 2021

**Last Updated:** 13 jul 2022

**Journal:** Calc. Var. Partial Differential Equations

**Year:** 2022

**Doi:** https://doi.org/10.1007/s00526-022-02284-7

**Abstract:**

We prove that if $M$ is a closed $n$-dimensional Riemannian manifold, $n \ge 3$, with ${\rm Ric}\ge n-1$ and for which the optimal constant in the critical Sobolev inequality equals the one of the $n$-dimensional sphere $\mathbb{S}^n$, then $M$ is isometric to $\mathbb{S}^n$. An almost-rigidity result is also established, saying that if equality is almost achieved, then $M$ is close in the measure Gromov-Hausdorff sense to a spherical suspension. These statements are obtained in the ${\rm RCD}$-setting of (possibly non-smooth) metric measure spaces satisfying synthetic lower Ricci curvature bounds. An independent result of our analysis is the characterization of the best constant in the Sobolev inequality on any compact ${\rm CD}$ space, extending to the non-smooth setting a classical result by Aubin. Our arguments are based on a new concentration compactness result for mGH-converging sequences of ${\rm RCD}$ spaces and on a Polya-Szego inequality of Euclidean-type in ${\rm CD}$ spaces. As an application of the technical tools developed we prove both an existence result for the Yamabe equation and the continuity of the generalized Yamabe constant under measure Gromov-Hausdorff convergence, in the ${\rm RCD}$-setting.