A player with a pull so strong that a number of international Barca fans have jumped ship to join him at PSG, his collectible cards are always going to be of interest to the average investor.
His rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo drove both to change the landscape of the sport, and they are two of the most decorated football players of all-time.
Here’s everything you need to know about the best Lionel Messi cards, including a rookie guide and investment advice.
The Best Lionel Messi Cards
A mix of rookie cards and more recent signed options make it onto the list of the best Lionel Messi cards.
Considering the age and value of the average Messi card, we’d stick with signed options from the likes of PSA and BGS whenever possible.
5. 2004-05 Panini Mega Cracks Barca Campeón / Campió Lionel Messi #35, #62, #89 (eBay)
We’ll start with a great Lionel Messi RC, released way back in 2004. The Barca Campeón / Campió set has a Spanish version (Campeón) and a Catalan version (Campió).
That means that there are two editions of each card, while there are three featuring the forward found in the set. (Numbered #35, #62 and #89.)
Either edition of the #89 card is typically preferred thanks to the addition of a facsimile autograph and a great action shot as he dribbles downfield.
It’s a solid addition to any collection, although prices have continued to rise each year for graded versions.
4. 2004-05 Panini Colecciones Este La Liga Stickers Lionel Messi RC #288 (eBay)
Often disregarded in favor of cardboard RCs, the Panini Este sticker is one of the rarest first-year options to feature the little dictator.
It has an action shot and a profile photo of Messi on the front, with his surname found at the base of the sticker.
The majority have long since been damaged or peeled, which is why higher grades will sell for significant amounts.
Once again, we think they’re likely to keep rising as he inches closer to retirement. It also flies under the radar when compared to the Mega Cracks found below.
3. 2006 Panini World Cup Germany Lionel Messi RC #47 (eBay)
Most talented soccer players will also have an international RC, showing them in the colours of their country for the first time.
Messi is no exception, with collectors particularly fond of his card found in the 2006 Panini World Cup set. They lost to Germany in the quarterfinals, as the hosts edged out the Argentinians 4–2 on penalties.
Regardless, the player is as famous in blue and white as he is in red and blue.
Messi finally ticked the last empty box in his glittering career in 2021, leading Argentina past hosts Brazil, 1-0, in the final of the Copa América in Rio de Janeiro.
The win with Argentina makes his international RC even more valuable in the long run.
2. 2016 Panini Noir Country Signatures Lionel Messi #53 (eBay)
A card which breaks up the monotony of the Messi RCs seen so far, the 2016 Panini Noir set contains a range of international themed signatures from the biggest stars of the mid 2010s.
With a base card limited to just 40 copies, the Club Signatures is one of the rarest Messi autos around, while there’s also a platinum parallel limited to just 10 copies.
It shows the player at the height of his powers, and he’s decked out in the Argentina away kit.
We think that his international cards have great potential as investment pieces, even if he’s more memorable in a Barca kit.
1. 2004 Panini Sports Mega Cracks Lionel Messi RC #71 (eBay)
The 2004 Panini Sports Mega Cracks Messi RC is iconic, and deserving of the top spot on the list.
Take the action shot, which sees the player with the ball seemingly glued to his foot. (He was still turning out for Barca B at the time, which is why he’s wrapped in a vintage kit.)
Then there’s the sheer value, as it’s the most expensive Messi card by some distance when looking at graded versions.
It’s my personal pick of the Messi RCs, and it’s also favoured by many collectors and investors.
Lionel Messi Cards: Buyers Guide
Messi cards are tough to gauge, especially as they tend to amass so many bids when they come up at auction.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to grab one for a steal, while the market rates are reasonably high at the moment.
The Best Cheap Lionel Messi Cards
The best cheap Messi cards are still going to be slabbed, unless you’re looking at one of the RCs and it’s a trusted source.
Given the age of his rookie cards we’d be wary, while more recent parallels should hold up well in the future.
The Best Lionel Messi Investment Card
Any graded Messi card is likely to be worth more in a decade or so, but some have more potential to multiply in price than others.
His RCs came out a long time ago, and there aren’t as many copies as you might have expected. He’s also pictured in a Barca kit for the 2004 options, which is a nostalgic bonus given Messi’s recent transfer.
As such, we’d stick with any of the Mega Cracks cards, or even the Panini Este sticker given it’s rarity. There are just 10 gem mint copies graded by PSA at the current time of writing, and 36 that have earned a PSA 9 grade.
Lionel Messi Cards: Buying/Selling Advice
The move to France has reminded everyone that the demi-god is partly human, and his career will end someday. We’d hold onto any Messi cards you have, even if the market is beginning to hot up following his exit from PSG.
As with any GOAT contender, prices are likely to rise following his retirement, and he has to be seen as one of the most reliable investments within the hobby today.
Look to icons like Michael Jordan and his RC’s for a potential comparison down the line, especially if soccer continues to gain more attention in the U.S. where the majority of collectors are located.
We’re snagging as many Messi RC’s as we can in the meantime.
There’s a large chance that he will win more trophies at PSG, and it’s worth keeping an eye on their progress in the Champions League this season. Every medal and accolade will add to his legacy.