Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the match ended tied 2-2.(AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
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With the announcement that international soccer superstar Lionel Messi is coming to play for Major League Soccer club Inter Miami,  the big real estate question is where he will decide to live.

Will it be Key Biscayne, where he rented a home two years ago for $200,000 a month. Or will it be Sunny Isles, where he owns three luxury condominiums? One expert say security will be paramount for Messi when he chooses his home.

Messi – whose reportedly net worth is $600 million – is more than just a real estate riddle. He’s a one-man  economic juggernaut. An Argentine, Messi will only strengthen Miami’s strong relationship with South America. 

The best comparison is, of course, Lebron James’ move to the 305 when he joined the Miami Heat in 2010 – but Messi’s move may be bigger because of soccer’s even greater global reach.

“It’s always great when the biggest name in sports on a global stage chooses to move to your destination,” said Mathew Ratner, director of sports and entertainment tourism at the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Messi is a worldwide name on a worldwide scale and it just brings Miami, the global destination that we are, to the forefront of people’s minds.”

As for where he will live, the question will come down to security, said real estate agent Cyril Bijaoui with Longstead at the Corcoran Group in Miami.

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“The problem with Key Biscayne is one of security because you know anybody could drive up to a house,” Bijaoui said.

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Messi and his family in 2021 rented the home at 440 Mashta Dr. for reportedly $200,000 a month. The oceanfront home is 8,000 square feet and five bedrooms.

Messi owns three units at Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach – paying $5 million for a unit on the 47th floor and $1 million each for the two other units, according to a story in The Real Deal.

Bijaoui thinks Sunny Isles Beach is also off the table. 

“He’s a family man, he’s got kids. So if you’re gonna move and be somewhere permanently and not travel so much or travel less and have a job here, you are going to want a house,” Bijaoui said. 

Real estate agent Cyril Bijaoui with the Longstead at the Corcoran Group in Miami says security will be paramount for Lionel Messi when choosing where he will live in Miami-Dade County.

With those parameters, Bijaoui thinks the most likely places for Messi to land will be Indian Creek Island near Sunny Isles or Tahiti Beach or Gables Estates in Coral Gables.

Tahiti Beach is a private and exclusive neighborhood of 26 estate homes on an island with its own sandy beach.

Gables Estates’ website states it is “easily recognized worldwide as one of the most prestigious waterfront addresses in the country.” 

Indian Creek Island is also the lap of luxury, a 300-acre island on Biscayne Bay and described by “as one of the wealthiest, private, most secure communities.

“It’s  got to have a guard house, in my opinion, because he’s just too high profile,” Bijaoui said. “He’s just too big of a celebrity that people are not going to be driving in front of his house if they can.”

He said the worldwide news that Messi is coming to Miami simply makes Key Biscayne untenable as a place for Messi to live with his wife Antonela and three children, Ciro, Thiago and Mateo. When he rented the Mashta Drive mansion, maybe 1,000 people knew about it, Bijaoui said.

“There’s not a person on Earth that doesn’t know about this right now,” he said.

CNN reported that tickets for his upcoming games have soared. 

His debut is still in question but sources told the Athletic that it will be a July 21 Leagues Cup game with Mexican team Cruz Azul. A ticket to that game cost – according to the VividSeats ticket site – starts at $587 as of Friday morning.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi, center, controls the ball surrounded by Australia’s Aaron Mooy, left and his teammates Kye Rowles and Jackson Irvine during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Australia at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

“It’s a quality of life choice that he is making,” Bijaoui said. “He could have been paid millions of dollars more to go to other places, but he chose this.”

Forbes reported that Messi considered joining Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia which was offering him a $300 million-per-year.

“If it had been a question of money, I would have gone to [Saudi] Arabia or another place,” Messi told Mundo Deportivo. “The truth is that my decision was for another reason and not because of money.”

Ratner with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau said the large Argentine community here in South Florida was no doubt a selling point.

“It just makes sense that someone like Messi would come to Miami and feel right at home,” he said.

John Pacenti

JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.