Global soccer superstar Lionel Messi is looking for real estate in low-key southern Palm Beach County, hoping to give his family a home away from Miami’s extreme celebrity fanfare.
Representatives of the Argentine soccer phenom contacted the Boca Raton-based luxury real estate agent Senada Adzem this month is asking for proposals for properties in Boca Raton or West Delray Beach. After playing many years in Europe (for Barcelona and Paris), Messi, who led Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title, recently signed to play for Inter Miami CF in Major League Soccer. He said the move was mostly for his family.
Although Adzem could not share confidential details of her conversations with Messi’s emissary, she said she offered several properties on the market and off the market in gated communities with security.
“My understanding is that he is now seriously considering Palm Beach County because of the fact that he can get more privacy, more land and security is very important,” said Adzem, who is managing director of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman. “He’s one of the most famous people, if not the most famous person, in the world, and I think it’s a little quieter here.”
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South Florida learned on June 7 that Messi, 36, joined the David Beckham-owned team, which plays out of DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. He was formally presented to thousands of devotees on Sunday in a flashy event that the team’s managing owner Jorge Mas said was “a moment to change the football landscape in this country.”
It also could change, or at least further elevate, the sports cachet of Palm Beach County as a place where high-profile people can fly under the radar of paparazzi, press and tourists, said Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.
Messi would join a host of other sports stars with homes in Palm Beach County
Smallridge ticked off the names of resident celebrity athletes from Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus to Serena Williams and Michael Jordan.
“Privacy is something they especially seek for their children, a place where they will be protected. It’s very important to them,” Smallridge said.
Messi and his wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, have three young sons born between 2012 and 2018.
In southern Palm Beach County, they would be near several high-end private schools such as Saint Andrew’s School, Pine Crest School and the Palm Beach County campus of the American Heritage School.
Smallridge said celebrity residents also often invest in local businesses, support local charities and do student training programs in their communities.
“It’s not just a home purchase. It’s way bigger,” Smallridge said.
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Joey Worthen, head coach of Florida Atlantic University’s men’s soccer team, said Messi coming to South Florida will have a “massive” impact on soccer’s popularity and that FAU would be more than happy to partner on something.
“I don’t have his number on speed dial, but if Messi calls, I’ll take it,” Worthen said, noting Messi’s reputation for being a low-drama family man. “For him to reach out and be in the community would be in line with what he does.”
The possibility that the World Cup winner might move to Boca was also reported on the Univision network’s “El Gordo y La Flaca” afternoon show on Wednesday.
The programme’s short news segment “Chismes Gordos”, Spanish for “juicy gossip”, quoted friends of the Argentine saying that Messi would not live in his “luxurious apartments in Miami” to provide “better security for his sons” and to avoid “being accused by the press.”
Perhaps an alternative housing arrangement, the show said, is available further north in Boca Raton, which “is a much quieter” community and closer to the team’s Fort Lauderdale practice facility.
It made sense for Christian Prakas, managing broker for Serhant. in Delray Beach.
“Boca offers a wealth of very private secluded enclaves with large estates that would be ideal for such a high-profile international celebrity,” said Prakas. “With only 10 home games remaining and the current stadium right off Commercial Boulevard, Boca would be an easy hop, skip and jump for training and matches.”
Messi, whose net worth is estimated at around $600 million, has several luxury apartments in Miami, including the Porsche Design Tower, which features a vehicle elevator that allows residents to drive their cars directly to private garages attached to each unit.
The Miami Herald reported that Inter Miami’s 2 1/2-year deal with Messi has a total value of $125 million to $150 million. A native of Rosario, Argentina, Messi has won the sport’s top prize, the Ballon d’Or, a record seven times. He led Spain’s Barcelona FC team to a club record 34 trophies, including 10 La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles and the UEFA Champions League four times.
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Adzem said Messi’s representatives told her the family was initially looking for a home in Fort Lauderdale but didn’t want something on the water where boaters could more easily access the property.
She said she proposed a six-bedroom, 11-bathroom home in Stone Creek Ranch, an upscale community in unincorporated Delray Beach that has just 37 homes. At $23.9 million, the 11,500-square-foot home sits on 2.6 acres of land with an Olympic-style heated saltwater pool and tennis court. Adzem also mentioned the Sanctuary of Boca Raton as a possibility. The community is on the Intracoastal Waterway but is gated and has security on land and water, she said.
“They go through the process of understanding what fields they want to be in,” Adzem said. “Miami is the epicenter of his fandom. He wanted more privacy here.”
Kimberly Miller is a veteran journalist for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA Today Network of Florida. She covers real estate and how growth affects South Florida’s environment. Subscribe to The Dirt for a weekly real estate overview. If you have news tips, send them to [email protected]. Help support our local journalism, subscribe today.