Depending on who you ask, Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest soccer player of all time. Whether you believe he’s the best or not, he’s in the conversation along with the likes or Pele, Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite his later transfers to PSG and Inter Miami, it’s Messi’s achievements at the club he grew up in and became a star, Barcelona, that will be remembered fondly by soccer fans and soccer card collectors once he retires.
The Argentinian forward scored 672 goals in 778 games for Barcelona, while winning countless major trophies at club level and, finally, international level as well, after winning the Copa América in 2021, and the FIFA World Cup in 2022. He’s also won the Fifa Ballon d’Or a record 6 times.
The World Cup victory was the final piece to complete his trophy cabinet – He’s the most decorated player in the world.
There’s huge demand for Messi trading cards in the soccer card hobby, which is to be expected, given his status in the sport; He’s also one of the most well-known sporting names in the world.
In my opinion, the best Lionel Messi card is the 2004-05 Panini Megacracks rookie card, but there are so many great options from throughout his career – The guide below details the cards that are the most popular and hold the most value.
Table of Contents
What Is Lionel Messi’s True Rookie Card?
2004 Mundi Cromo Liga Lionel Messi #617
Although it’s not widely recognized by collectors as Messi’s main rookie card (because it’s not considered a major soccer card product by many), the 2004 Mundi Cromo card is his true rookie – It’s the first issued Messi Barcelona card.
It’s not Messi’s most valuable card, because it’s not considered his main rookie, but it still sells for big money.
I think it makes a great alternative option to the more popular 2004-05 Panini Megacracks rookie, because it’s a lot cheaper, but still a significant card for Lionel.
The card shows a young Messi in action doing what he does best, dribbling with the ball, which definitely has an appeal to it.
Average price in a PSA 10: $38k-$40k
What Is Lionel Messi’s Rookie Sticker?
2004-05 Panini Colecciones Este La Liga Lionel Messi #288
The Panini Colecciones Este La Liga sticker, issued in 2004, is Messi’s first soccer sticker which, again, shows a rookie Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona.
The intended purpose of soccer stickers, at the time it was released, was to stick them into a collection album, so to find them in their original state (loose and unstuck) is not common. Stickers are also harder to keep in top condition, because they’re so easy to damage or scuff, so finding this Messi sticker in great condition is not easy.
The sticker is worth a lot, but it’s by no means Messi’s most valuable card or sticker, so it’s potentially a good option for an investment, as I think this one could rise a lot in the future.
Average price in a PSA 10: $3.5k-$4k
Other Valuable Lionel Messi Cards
2004-05 Panini Megacracks Lionel Messi #71
The 2004-05 Panini Megacracks (#71) card is widely considered to be Lionel Messi’s main rookie card, because it’s his first release by a major card manufacturing brand.
It also shows a young Messi in action with the ball.
This card already sells for hundreds of thousands in a PSA or BGS grade 10. There’s no doubt it’s one of the most valuable soccer cards there is, and it will stay that way well into the future.
The card is hard to come by, which contributes to the high values, because it wasn’t printed or released in America – Plus, when it was released back in 2004, soccer trading card grading wasn’t the huge thing that it is today, so it’s very rare to see one in good condition.
Average price in a PSA 10: $260k-$280k
2004-05 Panini Megacracks Barcelona Lionel Messi #35, 62 & 89
Along with the La Liga Megacracks set, Panini also released a Barcelona Megacracks set, which included 3 different Lionel Messi cards in the 2004-05 season.
These cards are very popular among collectors, and up there as some of the most sought after Messi cards. The most valuable of the three cards is the #35 card.
The #89 card also includes Messi’s autograph, which is appealing to collectors.
There were two versions of the set released, and therefore 2 versions of each card (although the face design of the cards is almost exactly the same).
There is the Campeon version (Spanish) and the Campio version (Catalan). Catalonia is a region in Northeastern Spain, which includes Barcelona – The Campio version of the Megacracks cards are rarer, and hold a lot more value for the #35 and #62 cards, but similar for the #89 card.
#35 (Campeon Version) Average price in a PSA 10: $8k-$10k
#35 (Campio Version) Average price in a PSA 10: $38k-$40k
#62 (Campeon Version) Average price in a PSA 10: $4k-$6k
#62 (Campio Version) Average price in a PSA 10: $18-$20k
#89 (Campeon Version) Average price in a PSA 10: $3k-$5k
#89 (Campio Version) Average price in a PSA 10: $3k-$5k
2006 Panini World Cup Sticker Lionel Messi #185
The 2006 World Cup has the significance of being Lionel Messi’s first major international tournament. It’s Messi’s true international rookie, which will definitely hold value in the future.
Panini release sticker sets for every World Cup, and Messi was included in the 2006 set. World Cup soccer stickers have been popular in Europe for many years, but most would’ve been stuck into a collection album rather than kept loose and unstuck, which is what collectors want these days.
So although it’s not as rare as some of the other early Messi cards and stickers, it’s still pretty rare to find in good condition and still valuable.
Average price in a PSA 10: $1k-$2k
2006 Panini World Cup Card Lionel Messi #47
Panini also released a Lionel Messi soccer card for the 2006 World Cup. Despite the fact it’s not his true international rookie piece, it’s still valuable.
Even though cards are easier to keep in good condition than stickers, this card seems to be harder to come by than the 2006 Panini World Cup Messi sticker – Probably because, in Europe, the sticker set was a lot more popular than the card set at the time of the release.
Average price in a PSA 10: $2.5k-$3.5k
2007 Panini Copa America Lionel Messi #200
Lionel Messi’s second major international tournament for Argentina was the 2007 Copa America, which was Messi’s first Copa America.
Panini also released a sticker set for this tournament, which is rare and not easy to get hold of.
It is quite undervalued in my opinion, and while it’ll never be Messi’s most valuable card or sticker, I think it could rise quite a lot in the future, especially as his more popular releases become unaffordable for most collectors.
Average price in a PSA 10: $2k-$3k
2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Signatures Lionel Messi #S-LME
Although this isn’t the first Messi autographed card, the 2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Signatures card is one of the most popular Lionel Messi signed cards out there.
Lionel Messi and Argentina lost the final of the 2014 World Cup, but it’s still a highly popular and sought-after card. The signature is a sticker, rather than an on-card.
It’s not the easiest card to get hold of, with supply drying up a little in recent times, which only adds to its value.
There is a Prizm parallel (/25), Black Prizm parallel (1-of-1) and a El Samba parallel (1-of-1), which all hold far more value than the base version.
Base card average price in a PSA 10: $4k-$5k
2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Lionel Messi #12
I have to also mention the regular Lionel Messi card from the 2014 Prizm World Cup set.
As always with the Prizm brand, the base card is a mainstream and mass-produced card, which isn’t expensive to buy or hard to find; However, the Prizm parallels are where the high valuations are found, with the elusive Black Prizm (1-of-1) being the crown jewel.
A version of the Gold Prizm parallel (/10) sold for over $500k in the past, making it one of the most expensive soccer cards ever sold.
Base card average price in a PSA 10: $120-$150
2016 Panini Flawless Sole Of The Game Lionel Messi #SS-LM
Lionel Messi had a few notable autographed cards as part of the premium and popular 2016 Panini Flawless set.
Arguably the most notable Messi card from the set was this Sole Of The Game card, which paired a signature with match-worn cleat relics, with big appeal among collectors, and therefore high values.
The base version is numbered to just 25 copies, with four lower-numbered parallels, which takes the total number of cards to 56. You’ll have to shop around to buy one of these, because they’re not easy to find.
Average price in a PSA 10: $50k
2016-17 Panini Noir Legendary Signatures Lionel Messi #LS-LM
It’s limited and numbered to just 60 copies, so it’s not easy to find, and not one you’re likely to see listed on eBay much.
The card also offers something slightly different in the way of design to other Messi autos, with a black and white colored theme used.
Average price in a PSA 10: N/A (no data)
2017 Panini Immaculate Collection Moments Autographs Lionel Messi #IM-LM
The 2017 Panini Immaculate set is another premium, and highly popular set in soccer cards.
With 21 different base autograph or relic cards (some combining both) in the set for Lionel, plus his base card, there are plenty to choose from; My personal favorite is his Moments Autograph card (pictured above), which marks his achievement of becoming La Liga’s all-time leading scorer, during his time at Barcelona.
It’s limited and numbered to 25 copies, with no parallels.
The auto cards from the set are sticker signatures, rather than hard-signed, but they’re still popular and premium options, which hold good value.
Average price in a PSA 10: $3k-$4k
2018 Panini Kaboom! Lionel Messi #LMS
Panini’s short print Kaboom inserts are very popular, but also really rare, so they usually sell for top dollar.
The 2018 Panini Kaboom card wasn’t Messi’s first from the brand, having had one from the 2017 Panini Select Kaboom subset, but it was the first to have the elusive, and even more valuable, Gold (/10) and Green (1/1) parallels.
The base 2018 Kaboom card is valuable (although not quite as much as the 2017 base card), but the parallels are very expensive – There isn’t any data on the Green parallel, but the Gold (/10) has an average sale amount of around $35k in PSA 10 grading, and is one of Messi’s top cards.
Base card average price in a PSA 10: $3k-$3.5k
2022 Panini Prizm World Cup Lionel Messi #7
The 2022 Qatar World Cup will always have added significance for Messi collectors, because it’s the year he finally lifted the famous international cup.
Like the popular 2014 Prizm card that was mentioned earlier, there’s no real value in the readily available base version of this one, but the Prizm parallels are the big hits.
The 1-of-1 Gold Power Prizm parallel sold for $218k in the past, which gives Messi another entry into the list of the most valuable soccer cards ever; I think if the sports card market had been as hot at the time of sale as it was in 2021, it could’ve easily have sold for 3 or 4-times more.
Base card average price in a PSA 10: $80-$100
2022-23 Topps Chrome UEFA Club Competitions Triple Autographs Lionel Messi / Cristiano Ronaldo / Erling Haaland #TA-MRH
This 2022-23 Topps Chrome UCC Triple Autographs card is at the top end of premium modern soccer cards.
I’m sure that I’m part of the majority by saying I would love to own this card.
It features Messi alongside his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, both for the teams that they’re most associated with, and where they both established themselves as some of the greatest soccer players ever; Barcelona for Messi and Real Madrid for Ronaldo.
Erling Haaland completes the trio; The Norwegian forward is certainly one of the best in the next generation from the two legends he’s featured alongside, and he’s one of the biggest names in the soccer card hobby.
The signatures add a big appeal, and there are a few very limited parallels, including the 1-of-1 Superfractor (pictured above), which is easily one of the most valuable soccer cards in the modern era – It sold for $134,400 through Goldin auctions in August 2023 after being graded a PSA 9.
Other Autographed Lionel Messi Cards
As we see with all top players in the modern sports card hobby, Messi has a wide selection of cards featuring his signature and/or jersey patch pieces.
I’ve listed some key options above, but there are many more out there from across his playing career and from a variety of different sets, including his cards from the ultra-premium 2022 Panini Eminence Qatar 2022 set, which have added significance and value because Messi and Argentina won the Qatar World Cup.
Any high-end Lionel Messi autograph or patch card will be amongst his key and most valuable soccer cards.
When Was Lionel Messi’s Rookie Year?
Lionel Messi’s rookie year was in the 2003-2004 season (his first as a professional) with Barcelona. He also made his first senior national appearance for Argentina in 2005.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lionel Messi Cards
How Much Are Lionel Messi Rookie Cards Worth?
Lionel Messi’s early cards have high valuations – The 2004-05 Panini Megacracks Lionel Messi rookie card is worth big money, it can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the highest grades, like PSA 10 or BGS 10.
On average, a PSA 10 for his most popular rookie sells for between $260,000 to $280,000.
What Is The Most Valuable Lionel Messi Rookie Card?
The 2004-05 Panini Megacracks card (#71) is Lionel Messi’s most valuable rookie card.
Are Lionel Messi Rookie Cards A Good Investment?
If you’re investing in soccer cards, then a Messi rookie is still one of the best investments you can make, despite some of them being very highly valued already. He’s a name that holds clout in the sports card market.
His main rookie cards aren’t exactly an entry level investment anymore, considering they’re going for multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars in high grades, however, there’s the option of fractional sports card ownership now, so you could always buy a smaller share of those cards at an affordable amount for an everyday sports card investor.
I think in the future, when Messi has retired, the value of his rookie cards will only increase further. I also think his international rookie cards and stickers with Argentina are still very undervalued, when compared to his Barcelona cards.