2022 FIFA World Cup Rookie Cards to Look Out For

mobile world cup rookies
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The biggest event in soccer is only weeks away from kicking off.  The 2022 FIFA World Cup,  which will be held in Qatar, will feature the best talent in the world duking it out for their nation.  We’ve seen the excitement for the World Cup already impact the hobby, as many collectors are investing in soccer’s young stars.

In years past, Panini has put out many heralded sets ahead of the World Cup.  The 2014 Prizm WC set is arguably the most popular modern soccer product, highlighted by the Gold Prizms of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The follow-up set, 2018 Prizm WC, produced the first Prizm cards of young phenom Kylian Mbappe.  Now, as November is quickly approaching, we can look forward to upcoming releases such as 2022 National Treasures.  Needless to say, the hobby appreciates the World Cup.

Today’s list is going to focus on the rookie cards of the biggest names coming to Qatar.  Companies like Topps and Panini produce a wide variety of rookies for soccer players, so this list is aiming to reflect that.  We will be showcasing some of the most expensive cards for some players and some hidden gems for others.  

Without further ado, let’s break down the rookie cards of the big names you will be hearing at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

1. Lionel Messi - 2004 Panini Sports Mega Cracks PSA 10 ($336,000)

messi mega cracks
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To start off this list, it’s only fair that we feature one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.  A record seven-time Ballon D’or winner, Messi’s name has grown synonymous with other legendary athletes like Pele and Ronaldinho.  He has etched his name in nearly every record book, but he still yearns for a World Cup title with Argentina.

The 2004 Panini Sports Mega Cracks is widely regarded as Messi’s true rookie card.  It has sold for as high as $336,000, marking the second-biggest Lionel Messi sale.  

2. Cristiano Ronaldo - 2002-03 Panini Sports Mega Craques PSA 10 ($300,000)

ronaldo mega craques
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Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon D’Or five times,  has 32 senior trophies, and is the most followed human being on Earth.  He has surpassed the level of stardom and reached legendary status at this point in his career.  However, he and the rest of the Portugal national team still want to hoist up the 2022 FIFA World Cup trophy.

The 2002-03 Panini Mega Craques is an incredibly iconic soccer card that has reached highs of over $300,000.  Many of the players on the list have big card sales and a bright future ahead, but few will reach the level that Ronaldo and Messi have in soccer and pop culture.

3. Kylian Mbappé - 2018 Prizm World Cup Gold Prizm /10 PSA 10 ($216,000)

mbappe gold prizm
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Inarguably the most collected young player in soccer, Kylian Mbappé has garnered the same hype that players like Zion Williamson and Justin Herbert have reached in their respective sports.  And, just like these aforementioned players, Mbappé possesses a skill set that is constantly dazzling fans.

This 2018 Prizm Gold is the biggest ultra-modern soccer sale to date, for it reached a final price of $216,000 in August.  Rookies of the young PSG star can also be found in 2017 Select, 2017-18 Topps Chrome, and the 2016 Panini Foot Ligue 1 sticker set.  

Recently, Mbappé made a splash in the hobby with his first ever licensed autograph set, which has already had five-figure sales.  The young Frenchman is already celebrated heavily within the hobby, so a good performance in Qatar will only grow his presence.

4. Phil Foden - 2018-19 Donruss Optic Green /5 BGS 9 ($6500)

foden optic green
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Slated to make his World Cup debut this fall, Phil Foden has quickly emerged as one of the most talented young players on the planet.  Foden made his debut with Manchester City at just 17 and has quickly blossomed into a centerpiece for the squad.

If there is one pattern we’ve noticed in the hobby, it is that young prospects are constantly sought after.  And the 22-year-old Englishman is no exception. His first licensed trading card can be found in 2018 Donruss Optic. While his Gold Vinyl 1/1 has yet to sell publicly, this Green Parallel #/5 sold for $6,500 back in June.

5. Jamal Musiala - 2020 Stadium Club Chrome Superfractor 1/1 PSA 10 ($22,800)

musiala superfractor
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Another young and talented name on this list is Jamal Musiala, a midfielder for Bayern Munich.  After Robert Lewandowski’s departure from the Bundesliga club this year, many wondered if there was a ball-striker that could replicate his production.  And while Musiala is still very young, he seems to have all the tools to be the next Bayern household name.

The 19-year-old has had multiple five-digit sales in the hobby already.  This culminated with a $22,800 closing price for his 2020 Stadium Club Chrome Superfractor PSA 10.  If Musiala makes a deep run with Germany this fall, this 1/1 stunner could be worth much more in the future.

6. Vinícius Junior - 2018-19 Panini Treble Platinum 1/1 BGS 9.5 ($37,065)

vinicius platinum
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Next, we have one of the best wingers in the game, Vinícius Junior.  Unlike other players on this list, Vini Jr. enters the World Cup on a stacked Brazil team.  He and his squad are equipped to make a deep run in Qatar, which could result in a spike for his card market.

Junior’s biggest card is his 2018 Panini Treble Platinum 1/1 Rookie ($37,065).  However, you can pick up other Vini rookies in sets like 2018-19 Donruss Optic and 2018 Panini Megacracks.  

Junior and Brazil kick off their World Cup campaign against Serbia on Nov. 24. 

7. Harry Kane - 2014 Topps EPL Merlin PSA 10 ($3500)

kane topps epl
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The English national team will be captained by Harry Kane, one of the best ball-strikers on this list.  Kane has already had an impressive career with Tottenham, which includes a 30-goal season in 2017.  However, he and other newcomers like Phil Foden are determined to bring a gold trophy back to England.

This 2014 Topps EPL Rookie may be small in size, but it is a consistent $3,500+ card.  It is also only a POP 10, so you’re not likely to see it on an auction site anytime soon.

8. Christian Pulisic - 2018 Panini Kaboom! Gold /10 PSA 9 ($15,000)

pulisic gold kaboom
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Much like Kylian Mbappé, the young Christian Pulisic has also been instrumental in the growth of the modern soccer card market.  His talent and flair have quickly made him one of the United States’ best players.  As long as he remains healthy, “Captain America” is due for a big performance under the bright lights of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Pulisic has many accepted rookies, including cards from 2016 Select and 2016 Donruss.  But none are as visually-striking as this 2018 Kaboom! Gold, which sold for over $15,000 in March 2022.

9. Pedri - 2020 Topps Finest UCL Superfractor Auto 1/1 PSA 9 ($43,000)

pedri superfractor
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Pedri is one of the younger stars on this list, but he has already made waves as a midfielder for Barcelona. He’s been compared to players like Andres Iniesta, which is high praise for someone who hasn’t even celebrated their 20th birthday.  Pedri looks to the Spain national team as they face off against Costa Rica on November 23.

Pedri’s biggest rookie card sale is his 2020 Topps Finest Superfractor auto, which went for over $43,000 in April 2022.  He also has sought-after cards in Topps Merlin and Donruss Optic, and both of them still bring in a pretty penny.

10. Kevin De Bruyne - 2010 Panini Football Stickers PSA 10 ($11,000)

debruyne 2010 panini
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Kevin De Bruyne is en route to making his third World Cup appearance for Belgium, and he is the clear centerpiece of  their roster.  A gifted midfielder, De Bruyne has spent the last seven years with Manchester City.  He has amassed quite the following in the process and has a remarkable accolades list as well.

De Bruyne’s 2010 rookie is a Panini sticker, which is notoriously hard to grade.  This card is only a POP 3, and it last sold for $11,000 in January 2022.

11. Son Heung-min - 2011 Topps Fussball Bundesliga Stickers PSA 10 ($750)

Hueng Min Son 2011 fussball
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Son Heung-min is another veteran name looking to make an impact in Qatar.  At 30 years old, Heung-min will be making his third World Cup appearance for the South Korean national team.  He has had a similar career path as Tottenham teammate Harry Kane, and now both may face off at some point this fall.

His true rookie card is from the 2011 Topps Fussball sticker set, and it only trades for around $750-1,000.  However, other rare Heung-min cards from Topps Chrome, Prizm, and Impeccable have sold for as high as $7,300.  

12. Neymar - 2009-10 Abril Gol PSA 9 ($19,200)

neymar abril gol
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Here we have another household name to add to the list.  Neymar has been tearing up defenses since his professional debut in 2009, and he will be instrumental in Brazil’s run this fall. The 30-year-old forward has scored 74 career goals with the Brazilian team, and he is bound to add to that list soon.

Neymar’s 2009 Abril Gol rookie is also his most expensive card to date with a sale price of $19,200.  It shows the young star when he played for Santos, long before his Barcelona or PSG days.

13. Karim Benzema - 2006 Panini Foot Stickers PSA 10 ($3600)

benzema panini foot
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Karim Benzema, the gifted Real Madrid scorer, is looking to go back-to-back.  At 34, Benzema is one of the older players on this list,  but he still demonstrates the playmaking ability that could win France some matches in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

This 2006 Panini Foot rookie shows just how important sticker cards have been in the soccer market.  It is a POP 47 as a PSA 10, and it has sold for as high as $3,600 during a PWCC Weekly auction.

14. Luka Modric - 2008 Panini UEFA Euro Sticker PSA 10 ($2130)

modric 2008 uefa euro sticker
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At 37 years old, Modric is no stranger to soccer’s biggest stage.  He has World Cup appearances dating back to 2006, and he will be a pivotal player if Croatia makes a deep run this year. 

The Real Madrid midfielder has other valuable cards in products like Topps Chrome Sapphire and National Treasures.  But, it is his 2008 Euro Sticker that is widely considered to be his true rookie.  The card has sold for as high as $2,130 in March of 2022, and it currently stands as a POP 16.

15. Robert Lewandowski - 2008 Panini Ekstraklasa PSA 10 ($12,500)

lewandowski ekstraklasa
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While still in his prime, Robert Lewandowski has already had an incredible impact on Bayern Munich and the Polish national team.  Now, the 34-year-old striker will look to continue building his resume with Barcelona FC.  And, of course, he will be eyeing a deep run with the Polish team this fall.

Like many others, Lewandowksi has valuable Prizm and Select Golds.  But his 2008 Panini is impressive in its own right; it sold for $12,500 in April 2022.  Since it is only a POP 5, this card may prove to be a solid investment in the future.  Lewandowski is one of the more underrated players in the sport, so we will see if the hobby begins to show him love.

16. Alphonso Davies - 2018 Panini Immaculate PSA 10 ($1500)

davies immaculate 2018
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As the pride of Canada, Alphonso Davies will be looking to give his team some life in Qatar.  Davies is 21, making him another young gun on this list. Yet, he possesses incredible pace and control, so he will be a vital part of the Canadian squad.

The Bayern Munich winger has collectible rookies in 2018 Immaculate and 2018 Donruss Optic, but we will be focusing on the former.  The 2018 Immaculate RC shown above is an incredibly tough grade, and it also sold for $1,500 last year.  

17. Sadio Mane - 2012 Panini Fussball Bundesliga Stickers PSA 9 ($588)

mane 2012 fussball
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Sadio Mane is another player who is no stranger to the limelight of international play.  He has been on the Senegalese national team since the 2012 Olympics, and he was instrumental in their 2018 World Cup matches.  While Senegal may be a long shot to win it all, you can bet that you will be hearing Mane’s name.

Sadio’s 2012 Panini Fussball Bundesliga Sticker rookie is drastically overlooked, and it’s only a POP 6 as a PSA 9.  In fact, there are no PSA 10s in existence, making this one of the rarest base rookies on the list.

18. Joshua Kimmich - 2018 Prizm World Cup Silver PSA 10 ($550)

kimmich silver world cup prizm
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The German national team is loaded with playmakers, but Joshua Kimmich could be the x-factor at this year’s games.  The 27-year-old Kimmich has a complete skillset, so he will be using his repertoire as needed to reclaim the Germans as champions.

His best rookie comes from the revered 2018 Prizm World Cup set.  This silver prizm sold for $550 last year, and there have never been any numbered cards from the set that sold publicly. 

19. Jude Bellingham - 2020 Topps Chrome UCL Superfractor 1/1 PSA 9 ($28,000)

bellingham superfractor
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Another emerging name in the soccer card market is Jude Bellingham, who will look to contribute to a solid English team.  Bellingham just turned 19 this summer, making him one of the youngest names on this list.  We’ve already seen his talent have an impact for Dortmund, so it will be interesting to see if he can deliver for England.

Jude’s 2020 Topps Chrome Superfractor sold for over $28,000 last year, which is one of the highest prices we’ve seen so far.  His potential is certainly there, but we are all eagerly awaiting his international team debut this fall.

20. Gavi - 2021 Topps UCL 1st Edition Orange /25 PSA 10 ($2500)

gavi orange ucl
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Gavi, the young Spanish phenom, will be joining his Barcelona teammate Pedri on the national team.  The 18-year-old midfielder has much to prove, but his talent is undoub.  And he’s doing it all with his shoes untied.

This 2021 Topps 1st Edition Orange Parallel closed for $2,500 in June. If that doesn’t prove the power of prospecting in the hobby, we don’t know what does.  Regardless, Gavi is among the premier young talent in soccer, and he will make his international debut against Costa Rica.

Did we miss any of your favorite players that are set to play in the 2022 FIFA World Cup? Let us know @CardTalkPod on Instagram and Twitter!

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