While baseball might get most of the love in terms of trading card popularity, the other sports of the world certainly have their fair share of valuable cards, and that includes soccer. Over the years, there have been some cards that are worth hundreds of thousands to collectors at auction. From current players to former legends, there are some cards that are incredibly rare and worth a small fortune.
Which cards are the most expensive, though? There were some cards that have sold for $10,000, $25,000, or even $50,000 that didn’t quite make the cut. Instead, we want to focus on just the cream of the crop and highlight the five most valuable soccer trading cards ever sold. For this list, we used just the top-selling card for a single player.
5. Kylian Mbappe ($161,130)
Kylian Mbappe came up through the French soccer ranks quickly, earning himself a spot on the 2018 World Cup team at just 19 years old. During that World Cup in Russia, there were multiple cards made of Mbappe, with the most rare being the Panini Prizm Gold.
There have been a few of these that made their way to auction, though it was hard to find one that was in perfect condition. One of the near-mint copies of the card sold for $161,130 with an 8.5 grade, showing just how rare the card was upon release.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo ($312,000)
Cristiano Ronaldo may be a mainstream megastar across the world, but one time he was just a kid trying to play soccer. His rookie card released as part of the 2003 Panini Sports Mega Cracks (or Craques) collection featured a much different-looking Ronaldo playing for Sporting Clube de Portugal as a teenager.
The Portuguese forward would end up becoming a star with Manchester United and Real Madrid, boosting the value of his rookie card. Someone was able to keep it in mint condition, and the card was sold at auction for $312,000 while other copies of the card in similar condition have sold for slightly lower.
3. Lionel Messi ($336,000)
Lionel Messi has been named the best player in the world as the Ballon d’Or winner six times, cementing himself as one of the greatest legends in soccer history. In terms of cards that were made for Messi, you have to go back to the 2004 Panini Sports Mega Cracks collection to find his rookie card. In near-mint condition, this card is worth $7,000.
One of the cards, though, was kept in pristine condition and was sold for $336,000. Previous high-graded Messi cards had been evaluated at around $250,000. To see one in the shape that this particular one was in, though, had been extremely rare as he was never expected to become what he was.
2. Pele ($372,000)
If you were to ask the most casual fan of soccer to name a player before the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi came along, there’s a solid chance that they would have said Pele. The Brazilian star helped bring soccer to countries where it wasn’t quite as popular before, and he’s considered the sport’s all-time biggest legend.
His rookie card dates back all the way to 1958 and was created by Alifabolaget. It’s a very unassuming card as it simply has Pele’s photo with a white bar featuring his name in light blue lettering at the bottom. It might be simplistic, but the Pele rookie card was sold for $372,000 at a 2021 auction.
1. Erling Haaland ($432,000)
While the other cards on the list were for players that have either long since retired or were in the back half of their legendary careers when their cards sold, Erling Haaland is a case of someone trying to plan ahead. The Norwegian star made his senior debut in 2019, and he quickly showed why he was one of the fastest-rising players in the sport.
His rookie card in 2019 for Topps was kept by one owner in perfect condition as Haaland played in the German Bundesliga, and it was even autographed by the star. Two years later, the card was placed for auction by Goldin Co. and sold for a whopping $432,000. Time will tell if the card will end up being worth that much, but Haaland made it look like a sound investment for the buyer almost immediately.