Lionel Messi recently completed a move to PSG, which sent shockwaves around the world as fans are forced to contemplate life without the player in a familiar Barca shirt.
Here’s everything you need to know about graded Messi cards, looking at some of his best RCs, as well as popular options that were released in later years.
Top Lionel Messi RCs
If you’re wondering what all of the fuss is about, here’s a quick rundown with a trio of the best Lionel Messi rookie cards that money can buy.
1. 2004-05 Panini Mega Cracks Barca Campeón / Campió Lionel Messi #35, #62, #89 (eBay)
We’ll start with a classic 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.
2. 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. 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.
New Graded Lionel Messi Cards
Messi is the key to numerous sets, whether it be La Liga, Argentina, or Champions League themed.
(After all, who is going to say no to a signed Messi parallel?)
Here are some of the best more recently released graded Messi cards that money can buy.
In terms of pure value, the earlier the better if you’re looking at Messi Barca cards, while there’s a significant drop-off if you’re willing to look for options released during the late 2010’s.
Unless you’re looking at rare signed parallels, any Messi cards released over the past decade tend to be far cheaper than his RCs.
One classic example would be the 2008 Panini UEFA Soccer Champions League Sticker #109, which can be picked up for roughly $150 if you’re looking at PSA 9 versions.
Compare that to 2020 Panini Obsidian Colorblast insert, with ungraded versions selling for $1,500 in recent weeks.
There’s something to suit almost every budget, and the majority feature Messi in the famous blue and red stripes of Barcelona.
The latest round of Messi cards will be released this year with a Ligue 1 theme. As always, I’d expect the forward to be the key to numerous sets, especially as they’ll be the first to feature him in PSG colours.
It’s likely that his stint in Paris will bring at least a few trophies to the fore, so it might be worth grabbing a few of the rarer options for grading purposes somewhere down the line.
Messi in an Argentina shirt is money. As usual, the earlier the better if you’re aiming to maximise profits long-term.
Look at any of the World Cup cards, although PSA 10 copies of the first 2006 release are probably out of reach by now. 2010 is also expensive for graded copies, but there is another tournament coming up next year.
2022 Panini sets will contain Messi WC cards, and it could be his last ever appearance in the greatest tournament in world football.
Why It’s Worth Collecting New Graded Lionel Messi Cards
Messi won’t be with us forever, and he’s slowly entering the final stages of his career at the age of 34. For now, he’s still the best player in the world.
It’s hard to say when he’ll retire, or if he’d be willing to return to Barcelona in a few years. Either way, nothing lasts forever, even for GOAT contenders.
More recent graded Messi cards can be picked up for a relatively cheap price, and should spike once he decides to call time on his career.
Early Barca/Argentina cards are our top pick, especially if you don’t have five figures spare to drop down on a graded Messi RC.