At the highest level, soccer players are some of the highest earning athletes in the world. As such, they often have cash to burn and their extravagant purchases sometimes make the news, particularly the more eccentric stars of the game. The taste of some players' purchases are often called into question, and their homes are no different. Some of the stars on this list have properties which could perhaps be kindly described as 'quirky'.
Unsurprisingly, this list is almost exclusively made up of well-known stars of the game, who have played in Europe's major leagues for a number of years and accumulated considerable wealth. All of the players on this list are or were at one point full internationals and only one has not featured in the Champions League, with the vast majority having spent five or more years at one of Europe's top teams.
The list is made up by a number of criteria; including cost, appearance, features and eccentricity. Whilst the list features some of the wealthiest players in the game, there is one notable exception. Lionel Messi, who is reportedly planning on building a colossal home in the shape of a football. When that happens, he'll likely be near the top of this list, but for now, he just misses out on the top 10. Not to worry, he's in the top 15 though. Here are the top 15 homes owned by soccer stars:
Being only 23 years old and still a young star in the game, it's likely Neymar hasn't purchased the best home of his life yet, but for now his Barcelona home is one any young adult can enjoy. The place costs over $20,000 a month to rent, but with Neymar's salary near $8 million a year, it's enough for Neymar to comfortably rent this home. The place is close to the beach in Barcelona's Pedralbes region. This is already a gem of a home, but it's likely that Neymar will upgrade on this one in the next few years.
15 Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard is bound for a move to New York City FC this summer and he's heading to the Big Apple in style, renting Robert De Niro's apartment worth $39 million. The 9,000 sq ft apartment has a cost of $95,000 to rent. The Manhattan West Village home also has a garage that can fit seven cars and has a view of the Hudson River. The pad also has five bedrooms and four bathrooms. You'd have to think Lampard's NYC FC teammates will want team gatherings to take place at Lampard's home.
13 Mario Balotelli
Dubbed the Teletubbies mansion by some in the press, Mario Balotelli was rumored to have swiped this place up following his move to Liverpool. His future at Merseyside is uncertain, but you'd have to think he'd want to find a way to hang onto this place, from its unique design. The home features helipad, swimming pool and football pitch, complete with an indoor gym, sauna and sports hall. The home is also a one-hour helicopter ride away from London, making it suitable for someone who like a night on the town.
Kaka's move to Orlando meant he had to find himself a new home, and while it's probably not the same value it was as his old homes in Italy and Spain, it's a lovely little mansion in Islesworth. The home is worth roughly $3.4 million. The home connects to a cul-de-sac and backs up to Lake Brenda. The lake is small, but is not accessible to the general public. It seems that Kaka has found himself a nice little sanctuary in western Florida. He should be very comfortable there for the next few years.
11 Lionel Messi
Someone who is considered to be the best player in the world was bound to be on a list like this. The house includes a spa and private theater naturally, but the real kicker is an indoor soccer pitch. It seems like Messi is going to one-up the idea of football being a part of his home for his next house, as he will be living in a house shaped like a soccer ball once it's completed. For now, he'll have to 'settle' for this property worth millions with an ordinary shape. Oh darn.
10 Phil Neville
When Phil Neville purchased his $6.2 million pad in 2010, the press reported that it was officially the most expensive apartment in Manchester. The former England international amassed a total of 59 caps for his country, where he rather unusually managed to play in three European Championships but no World Cups. Emerging from the legendary Manchester United 'Class of 92', Neville played over 300 games for both Manchester United and Everton, although his brother Gary was widely regarded as the more gifted sibling. Located above the Hilton hotel, the luxury apartment is spread over three floors, with 5,000 sq ft of living space, four bedrooms and stunning views over the city. Now a pundit, Neville put the apartment up for rent in 2013, at the reasonable rate of $23,000 a month.
9 Stephen Ireland
The only man on this list to have never appeared in the Champions League and the one with the fewest international caps, Stephen Ireland's home is also the cheapest on this list, but also the one which has had the largest media coverage. Nicknamed the 'King of Bling', Ireland's interior design is certainly an acquired taste. Ireland obviously likes the color pink, as it can be found on the rims of his Range Rover, but his daughter's bedroom is surely a step too far. The head-ache infusing 'Princess Room' really is a horror show. Ireland has caused more controversy on his home than in it though. The former Manchester City starlet once claimed his grandma had died to get out of an Ireland international when she was in fact fine. He hasn't played for his country since.
8 Gareth Bale
Officially the most expensive footballer of all time, Gareth Bale's home cost him considerably less than he cost Real Madrid, but a small fortune nonetheless. Bale is currently living in Brazilian star Kaka's former home, since he departed Madrid at a similar time to Bale joining. The former AC Milan man shed out $8.2 million on the luxurious property. Located 20 minutes outside of Madrid, the property is in one of Spain's priciest regions, with homes rarely selling for less than $6 million. Bale's neighbors include Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, among others. The property sports an impressive four bedrooms, six-car garage, indoor pool and a gym. Fortunately Bale is only renting the property, as he has been linked with a return to England this summer.
7 Andres Iniesta
One of the finest midfielders of his generation, few have a trophy cabinet to match that of Andres Iniesta's. Seven La Ligas, three Copa del Reys, four Champions Leagues, two European Championships, a World Cup and still going strong. The Spaniard had the house built almost 10 years ago, and tailored it to his every need. The customized property has his name and shirt number displayed upon the exterior wall of the house, as well as both the Spain and Barcelona badge. As Iniesta did not buy the property it is not as straightforward to evaluate its worth, although some estimates have put it in the region of $4.6 million. Should anyone ever buy the mansion, they may have to make do with Iniesta's name plastered all over the walls.
6 Wayne Rooney
England's best-paid player Wayne Rooney earns a sizable $465,000 a week, and he has invested a reasonable chunk of this into his Cheshire home. Constructed in the 1930s, the mansion cost Rooney $6 million, but he has since invested considerable time and money into his home which has been more recently valued at $16 million. Impressive features of the property include a cinema, golf simulator and an indoor pool. Rooney is currently both Manchester United and England captain and looks set to become England's all-time record goalscorer in the not-too-distant future.
5 David Beckham
Sold around three years ago for $20 million, the Beckhams made a tidy profit on their Hertfordshire mansion commonly known as 'Beckingham Palace', which they purchased for $3.9 million back in 1999. The Grade II listed 1930s Georgian style house was not always the Beckhams' main residency, with the couple not living in England since they left for Madrid in 2003. The property is equipped with seven bedrooms, a recording studio, a gym and a snooker room, as well as 17 acres of land. David & Victoria ended their 13-year hold on the property in 2012, with the new owner picking up an Aston Martin and two Jaguars as part of the deal.
4 Peter Crouch
In among the footballing elite is perhaps the slightly less decorated figure of Peter Crouch. The towering Stoke City striker threatened to become something of a journeyman before settling down at Stoke in 2011; having played for QPR, Dulwich Hamlet, IFK Hassleholm, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Norwich, Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham, all before turning 30. With a weekly wage of $130,000 and having played in the top flight for almost 15 years, the 6-foot-7 forward could afford to fork out $7.4 million on his current mansion. Crouch purchased the property, which features a fitness center, cinema and pool, from former England cricket star Freddie Flintoff. Crouch set the record this season as the all-time record Premier League headed goalscorer, overtaking Alan Shearer.
3 Cristiano Ronaldo
It is no surprise to see Cristiano Ronaldo in the top three of this list. The three-time Ballon d'Or winner was the highest earning soccer player in the world last year, earning just shy of $80 million. One would expect the Real Madrid star to live in a pretty impressive house then, and he does not disappoint. There were complaints about his house in England being unsightly but there have been no such comments made against his Spanish property, located nearby Gareth Bale, Zinedine Zidane and Fernando Torres.
CR7 had his home built from scratch but it still cost him $7 million. The mansion is over 8,000 square feet of luxury, with seven bedrooms, two pools, a 3,000 square meter garden, a trophy room but surprisingly, no wax work model or statue of himself. Perhaps old Cristiano isn't as fond of himself as we all thought after all.
2 Thierry Henry
After 16 years in Europe with Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal and Barcelona, Thierry Henry joined the New York Red Bulls in 2010. Having been one of Europe's top strikers for over 10 years, Henry was unsurprisingly one of the wealthiest men in the game, and he wielded his financial clout when house-hunting in the Big Apple. Henry did not hold back when deciding on a location, and moved into one of the most expensive parts of the city in the heart of Soho.
France's all-time top scorer, Henry had his heart set on the penthouse, and spent $9 million on the top two floors of the building. Not content, the Frenchman shed out a further $5.85 million on the floor below, taking his investment to just shy of $15 million. Totaling 5,607 square feet of floor space and a further 4,500 square feet of outside space, something of a rarity for properties in the region. The apartment has its own kitchen quarters for a chef, a media room and a 72" TV.
1 David Beckham (again)
Considerably wealthier than any other footballer or ex-footballer on the planet, perhaps it isn't that odd that Becks makes a double appearance on this list. England's record outfield appearance holder, Beckham is worth a reported $350 million, with his wife Victoria worth a further $300 million, making the Beckhams are one of the wealthiest celebrity couples in the world and have a number of luxurious homes. The one which takes top spot on this list though, is their most recent purchase, in London.
Fresh off the back of the sale of 'Beckingham Palace' for $20 million, Becks' new home in the capital set him back a cool $50 million, and has already been dubbed 'Beckingham Palace II' by some less imaginative sects of the press. Purchased in September 2013, the former Manchester United man reportedly paid for the property in cash. There were complaints when the Beckhams looked to install aircon in the Grade II listed Victorian mansion, a project priced at $8 million. Based in Kensington, the five-storey 9,000 square feet home has eight bedrooms, a gym, a massage room, a spa and a 'powder room'.