State Of Lionel Messi Cards As He Leaves Barcelona

If you came to this article you know that investing in Lionel Messi Cards is a good idea. But is now the time?

An Intro To Lionel Messi

Argentina won the 2021 Copa America under Lionel Messi’s leadership, bolstering his claim as the soccer GOAT. So, what are his other credentials?

You know how so many soccer games end with a dull 0-0? Messi has spent his career scoring almost one goal a game, with 474 goals in 520 games for Barcelona. When you include his performances for Argentina, the forward has over 750 career goals in total. But he is no selfish scorer. Messi has an all-time record of 192 assists in the Spanish La Liga.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the diminutive Argentine has won six Ballon d’Or. More than any other player in history. The award is the equivalent of an MVP, but even more prestigious since players are selected from the entire world.

So, bottom line: Messi is the best soccer player in the world. While some swear by Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, as of now, Messi has the better claim.

Messi helped cement his claim as the best player by helping Argentina to the Copa America (look for Lionel Messi posters on Amazon).

Messi’s Release From Barcelona And His Future

On August 5th, Barcelona FC and Lionel Messi announced they are parting ways. The player has never played for another team and is basically treated like a god at the Camp Nou stadium.

Lionel Messi will be 35 very soon and is approaching the twilight of his career. His release from Barcelona FC may signal the end of his play at the highest level. That means heading to China or the MLS. Although we guess he won’t make that move yet. After all, the Argentine will want to be facing good competition to get into the 2022 World Cup in good form.

Best Lionel Messi Cards

Soccer cards are a bit trickier than American sports cards. Releases come and go, and some are stickers rather than cards. Therefore, there is no equivalent to, say, a flagship rookie.

We made a judgment call and didn’t include any stickers. We are entirely aware of the importance of soccer stickers in the hobby. However, we believe that just as chrome cards have edged out paper in most sports, cards are edging out stickers. Unfortunately, the small quirks of different sports are being ironed out as the same American investors and collectors venture into all the major sports.

With that said, here are the most desirable Messi cards out there:

2004-05 Panini Mega Cracks Lionel Messi #71

Yes, I also think the name is hilarious. Mega Cracks is the Panini series released for Spanish collectors. It is even more iconic for soccer collectors than the Topps Update Mike Trout cards are for baseball fans. Therefore it is several times more valuable.

The grail card (look for 2004 Messi Mega Cracks cards on eBay).

2013 Icons Limited Messi Collection Lionel Messi Autographs

Autos came late to the game for soccer cards. Therefore, there are no blockbuster auto rookie parallels of Messi. Maybe that’s good because I shudder to think what they would be worth. The first known certified pack pulled Messi auto comes from this Japanese-only release. There are five variations (so technically, this isn’t one card), and they are all phenomenal cards.

2004 Lionel Messi Mundi Cromo Sport Las Fichas de la Liga #617

This rookie card doesn’t quite fetch the same premiums as the Mega Cracks variant. But that almost seems arbitrary. The card design is marvelous, and the picture of Messi with the ball at his feet seems to evoke that the player has the world under similar control.

This Messi rookie has an equally iconic feel and is undervalued (get Messi 2004 Lionel Messi Mundi Cromo Sport cards on eBay).

2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Signatures Lionel Messi #S-LME Autograph

Though not as rare as the Japanese autos, this card benefits from both the boost of the Prizm brand and the association with the World Cup. But, unfortunately, it also has a tragic tinge due to Messi’s poor performance in the final of that tournament.

This card speaks for itself (look for 2014 Panini Prizm 2014 World Cup Signatures Lionel Messi cards on eBay).

2018 Panini Eminence Lionel Messi Autographs

It is hard to say what makes one card pop and another seem pedestrian. But whatever that magic factor is, this card has it. The clean finish, the Argentine colors, and the prominent gold numbers certainly don’t hurt.

One Card To Avoid: 2004 UK Traditions Football World Stars

Messi cards are great, especially if they are older. But one card has been touted as a rookie card when it is actually a 2006 card mislabeled by PSA. While other card websites (we are far too lofty to mudsling) label it as a rookie, the card is custom-made from 2006. Yet, it has often been fetching rookie card prices. Avoid.

The Cardlines Pick

If you are on a budget and want to make some money off Messi cards, we recommend his early non-rookie Mega Cracks cards. While the rookies are hard to get, other early cards in his career are not. But they have low pops and, therefore, will likely only become more valuable over time.

Let’s use PSA 8’s (PSA 10’s are very rare and sometimes non-existent for these old Spanish cards) as an example for each of the early Messi Mega Cracks cards.

Year Price Population Pop Higher
2004-2005 $18,406 64 57
2005-2006 $900 20 6
2006-2007 (#386) $400 5 12
2006-2007 (#54) $273 16 8
We are betting these low pop non-RC Mega Cracks cards will go way up in value (get Messi 2005 Mega#71BIS cards on eBay).

These early Messi cards are gorgeous and will look even more special after the legendary player retires. As you can see, after the rookie card, the buy-in is not prohibitive, and the pops are very low. So, we believe that an extremely low pop Mega Cracks Messi will look mighty good a decade down the line.

Long-Term Outlook On Messi Cards

Messi cards are not where you go for a low buy-in and big profits. Nevertheless, he has been the biggest star in the game for well over a decade. Everyone knows who he is, and collectors have been driving the value of his cards up for years.

But that doesn’t mean his cards are not a good investment. Indeed, your outlook on Messi partially depends on the odds you give Argentina for winning the World Cup. A triumph there would give Messi the one significant honor he has yet to receive. However, despite winning the Copa America, they are not considered favorites to win. Brazil, France, England, and a few other teams are given higher odds by bookmakers.

Is Erling Haaland a future GOAT? (get Haaland rookies from eBay).

However, even if Messi never wins a World Cup, his cards will likely stand the test of time. We don’t know when there will be another player of Messi’s caliber. The game is becoming increasingly team-oriented, and players as dominant as the forward aren’t popping up. The closest thing is probably 21-year-old Norwegian Erling Haaland. However, he has not played at the highest level yet. While he will likely emerge as the best striker globally, I doubt Haaland is entirely up to GOAT standards.

Therefore, Messi will remain the standard-bearer in soccer for a long time. And since soccer cards are exploding in popularity, it is not too late to invest in the forward and make a tidy profit.

Beware Of Fake Lionel Messi Cards

A gem mint Mega Cracks Messi rookie card fetched $344,400 in its most recent sale. Therefore, it is no surprise that some darn crooks (if you will pardon my French) are out there trying to forge or tamper with these cards. Blowout Cards Forums has some examples of cards they believe are forgeries.

Keep in mind that Messi’s signature is one of the most forged in the world. So be very careful with auto cards and any other signed memorabilia.

We recommend you treat Messi Mega Cracks and high-value autos the way you would a Jordan rookie. First, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, trust but verify every card. Then, forget the trust part.

Bottomline On Lionel Messi Cards

One of the fallacies investors suffer is the idea that when value is high, there is no profit to be made. But of course, that is not true. For example, Google stock has doubled in value in the last year. So saying that there is no money to be made in Messi cards is the equivalent of saying there was no money to be made in Jordan cards in 1998.

They are not printing any more of Messi’s early and rare cards. Also, no one will ever forget this unbelievable player.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is a former history and political science professor at UCLA. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary. Shai also worked as a diplomat and journalist on three continents.


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