Lionel Messi is arguably the biggest name in soccer and Lionel Messi cards continue to receive plenty of attention from collectors.
The speedy Argentinean forward is a fan favorite and despite somewhat limited cardboard options, remains one of the top choices for soccer collecting, along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Pelé. The only thing that keeps him from staking his claim as the top player of all-time is his lack of World Cup titles. Regardless, his individual and club success puts him among the legends of the sport and Lionel Messi cards enjoy considerable interest in the hobby.
While he has already had a rather lengthy professional career, which began in 2003 with Barcelona, collectors looking for early Lionel Messi cards will not find that many options, especially from his first decade as a pro. Values remain strong for key cards and collectors naturally gravitate to the Lionel Messi rookie cards, which were released in 2004-05 products, as well as his low-numbered options and autograph cards.
In 2020, Topps issued a special set curated by Messi. The online-only 2020 Topps Lionel Messi Champions League release includes a base set version and a limited Autograph Edition with a guaranteed Lionel Messi autograph.
Although initially very rare, Lionel Messi autograph cards have become a bit more common in soccer sets, especially releases from Panini along with Topps and Leaf. Individually, they are not likely to surface in huge numbers, but as a whole, the supply is moderate at any given time.
The list below documents some of the most notable options for Leo Messi. This includes his top early cards and many of his signed cards.
For a detailed look at all the key early cards for Lionel Messi, as well as an apparel guide, view our Lionel Messi profile.
Top Lionel Messi Cards List
Click on the card listings below to shop for specific cards or track prices on eBay. Bolded sets go directly to detailed product profiles.
2004-05 Panini Mega Cracks Lionel Messi #71
Easily the most valuable of the Lionel Messi rookie cards, the 2004-05 Mega Cracks release has seen a tremendous increase in attention. In particular, high grades command huge sums, like the BGS 9.5 version that sold for $16,211 in June of 2020.
Falling under the same Mega Cracks brand, his 2004-05 Campeón and Campió rookies are popular, as well, and a bit easier on the wallet.
2004-05 Panini Este La Liga Sticker Lionel Messi
While stickers are normally less valuable and less popular, especially with modern cards, Lionel Messi's 2004-05 Panini Este sticker is more limited than most of his other first-year cards. Collectors have certainly taken notice of this La Liga sticker and pushed values quite high.
2013 Icons Limited Messi Collection Lionel Messi Autographs
The first major release of a certified, pack-pulled autograph for Lionel Messi came in 2013 Icons Messi Collection. Broken into two versions, the limited edition boxes offer autographs and game-worn or event-worn jersey cards, while the retail version only includes base cards.
The rare premium product was only available in Japan and Lionel Messi autographs fall about one per case. The main draw is the large on-card signature. In total, there are five different Lionel Messi signed cards found in the product but they can be very tough to locate.
2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Parallels Lionel Messi
Refractor-mania is nothing new for North American collectors, but 2014 Prizm World Cup was one of the first products to bring an extensive checklist of the shiny parallels to international soccer. The full group includes 11 different parallels, and collectors have shown interest in the rarest options, including Green Crystal Prizm (#/25), Gold Prizm (#/10), Gold Power Prizm (#/5) and Black Prizm (1/1).
Because Messi is featured in multiple inserts (Net Finders, Matchups, Stars) and the base set, there are actually 48 different Lionel Messi cards to collect, including the non-Prizm versions of each card. If you include the Team Photos inserts for Argentina, that adds 12 more cards, for a total of 60 different Lionel Messi cards.
2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Signatures Lionel Messi #S-LME Autograph
While it is not the first certified Lionel Messi signed card to emerge from a pack, this Lionel Messi autograph is one of the most popular cards in the entire 2014 Prizm World Cup product and a key part of his cardboard legacy.
Messi and Argentina came up just short in 2014, losing to Germany in the World Cup final.
The supply for these has largely dried up over the years, so it might take a little extra work to snag one.
2016 Panini Flawless Lionel Messi Autographs
One of the first major releases to stress on-card autographs, 2016 Flawless was the cream of the crop at that time. Messi has several notable signatures, including the Sole of the Game card with match-worn shoe pieces.
2016-17 Panini Noir Lionel Messi Autographs
Normally thought of as an NBA card brand, 2016-17 Panini Noir turned to soccer stars. The huge draw here is the fact that this set has hard-signed autographs for Messi. As seen below with the Legendary Signatures insert, some are even signed using gold ink.
2017 Panini Revolution Lionel Messi Autograph #A-LM SSP
Incredibly rare, the Messi autograph in 2017 Revolution Soccer is super short print (SSP), which means there are just 25 copies (or less). As a result, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to find.
2017 Panini Immaculate Collection Lionel Messi Autographs
Another premium move to soccer for a high-end Panini brand, 2017 Immaculate Collection opts for Messi sticker autographs, which is not ideal. Still, there are several choices.
2018 Panini Eminence Lionel Messi Autographs
Another top-of-the-line soccer set is 2018 Eminence. Huge prices, extravagant designs and limited runs all converge for the Lionel Messi autographs. In typical Panini style for ultra-premium releases, several of the encased cards add a diamond with the on-card signature.
2018 Panini National Treasures Lionel Messi Autographs
2018 National Treasures Soccer might come up short to Eminence, but the expensive brand still offers one of the better Messi cards. The Colossal insert features a jumbo relic and on-card signature.
2018 Panini Prizm World Cup Signatures Lionel Messi #S-LM Autograph
Just a few years later, 2018 Prizm World Cup provided another Lionel Messi autograph tied to the greatest global sporting event. Panini revealed that this signed card is part of the SSP (Super Short Print) lineup. That means the odds to pull his card is anywhere from 1:19 cases to 1:50 cases. Yes, cases.
Topps Champions League Lionel Messi Autographs
Although not as common as his Panini autographs, Topps produces multiple UEFA Champions Leagues sets with limited Lionel Messi autograph cards for Barcelona FC. This includes 2017-18 Topps Chrome UCL, 2017-18 Topps Museum Collection UCL, 2018-19 Topps Chrome UCL, 2018-19 Topps Finest UCL and 2019-20 Topps Finest UCL.
Donruss Lionel Messi Autographs
One of several soccer brands from Panini to be issued in multiple years, Donruss takes the classic design style to modern stars like Messi. His autograph cards are found in 2015 Donruss, 2016-17 Donruss and 2018-19 Donruss.
Panini Select Lionel Messi Autographs
Leaf Lionel Messi Autographs
Although the cards do not showcase team logos, Leaf gives Lionel Messi autograph collectors even more variety. Leaf does not generally produce soccer-specific sets except for Immortal Collection, but Messi is a regular option in the brand's multi-sport releases. One appealing aspect in addition to the rarity is that Leaf frequently pairs Messi with other legends.