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 transfer to PSG in 2021, 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 now, finally, international level as well after winning the Copa América in 2021. He’s also won the Fifa Ballon d’Or a record 6 times.
There’s huge demand for Messi trading cards in the soccer card hobby, which is to be expected, given his status in the sport.
Similar to Ronaldo, Messi burst onto the scene in the early 2000s, when soccer cards weren’t as collectable as they are now, and soccer stickers, which are harder to keep in good condition (and to find still ‘unstuck’) were more common than cards. So, naturally Messi’s soccer cards, especially the early ones, are worth a lot… but I think there’s plenty of room left for values to increase further.
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.
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 card manufacturer release), the 2004 Mundi Cromo card is his true rookie – It’s his first issued card as a Barcelona player.
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 that makes this card a good investment, a true rookie will always hold value for a player like Messi, and considering it’s around a third of the price of his 2004/05 Panini Megacracks card at the moment, it has room to run.
The card shows a young Lionel Messi in action doing what he does best, dribbling with the ball, which definitely has an appeal to it.
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.
Other Valuable Lionel Messi Cards
2004/05 Panini Megacracks Lionel Messi #71
The 2004/05 Panini Megacracks card is considered, by many collectors, 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 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 card grading wasn’t the huge thing that it is today, so it’s very rare to see one in good condition.
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 #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 slightly more valuable, but there’s not a huge difference.
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.
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.
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.
Is A Lionel Messi Rookie Card A Good Investment?
A Lionel Messi rookie card is still one of the best investments you can make with soccer cards, despite some of them being very highly valued already.
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.