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  • Writer's pictureDan Sullivan


Whatever you collect or invest in, we can all agree there is a large percentage of the Sports Card market dedicated to the chase of Rookie Cards/Stickers/Autographs, and with good reason.

A rookie (a term heavily used in the American market) card is most widely printed as a sportsperson's first printed card, usually as an athlete goes pro but as is becoming more the case in the soccer market now, simply a first-year printed card of the said athlete.

It is a huge market for collectors and investors alike, mainly due to the high values some can go for and the speed at which it changes. That athlete might yet not have achieved anything but the prospect of what they could become coupled with recent performance/form really appeals to the masses. It can be a confusing thing when looking from the outside when a highly decorated athletes card isn’t able to surpass the values of their rookie counterparts but my educated guess is investors are hoping to pick up cheap and sell when the rookie is performing well (if they do, there’s your gamble!), what we like to term as a “flip". Let’s take a look at a few of this season's top rookie prospects and what you should be keeping an eye on in the soccer market. In no particular order:

Gavi - FC Barcelona

This 18-year-old Spanish midfielder is already getting worldwide praise with some drawing comparisons with Barca legends Xavi and Iniesta. He is getting regular game time in the senior squad for both Barcelona. He became the youngest player ever to represent the Spanish national team (some feat!). For anyone who takes notice of the EA Sports FIFA game, Gavi is rated at 79, just outside the Under 21 Top 10, with many on the list his senior. Gavi is present across most (if not all) soccer hobby boxes this season (2021/22) and one of the main chases (deservedly so). Along with his teammate Pedri, his rookie cards are continuing to rise in value. To give you an example of what he is currently fetching, an /5 Topps Jade Champions League card fetched $1500!

Benjamin Sesko - Red Bull Salzburg

Sesko is just 19 years old and already holds an impressive array of stats, both at club and international level. The Slovenian forward has the record of youngest debut and youngest scorer for the Slovenian team. Signed by RB Salzburg at 16, he was loaned out to their feeder club FC Liefering in the Austrian Second League. At 17/18 years old, he scored 21 goals in 27 appearances for the Austrian team, finishing second highest goalscorer in the league in the 2020/21 season. Salzburg clearly understood what they had and so did RB Leipzig, as they’ve snapped him up for 2023 for a fee of around £22 million. I’ve personally watched some games that Sesko has been involved in and there is clear confidence in his game (at such a young age) and he has scored a few wonder goals already. Keep an eye on this guy!

Cole Palmer - Manchester City

Cole is one of my personal investments but he isn’t on this list just because of me, his qualities talk for themselves. A 20-year-old Mancunian who has been in the Manchester City academy since he was 8, he has continued the hard work and is now a regular in the match-day squad (as many will be aware, not an easy thing to do under Pep Guardiola as a youth). He may currently be limited for minutes at Manchester City but who isn’t? A midfielder/forward who draws a likeness to his teammate Phil Foden, he is an exciting prospect who Pep holds in high regard. There was a cull of some top youth talent in the summer at MCFC but it’s clear Pep wasn’t willing to let Palmer go. In the 2021 season, he came on as a substitute in a Premier League game against Burnley, only to change his kit and jump across the road to an Under-23 game and score a hat trick on the same night. If that’s not a commitment, I don’t know what is!

Jonathan David - Lille

A 22-year-old pacy forward who is already well established at an International level with Canada, with 2 hat tricks already to his name. Currently playing for Lille, he’s a mainstay in the first team with commendable stats for such a young age, seeing him scoring 10+ goals in his last 2 seasons and already looking to beat that this season! We are fully aware that the US sports card market plays a part in values/pricing and with Jonathan highly likely off to Qatar with Canada, him being on the big stage will see his value rise. Although he has “true rookie” stickers from around 2018, his RC stamp in this year's Topps Chrome product is a real coup for the hobby boxes! He is still relatively affordable (compared to Gavi and Sesko) with numbered cards being attainable even for modest investors/collectors. I think Jonathan is going to get a big move in a year or two, so watch this space!

There are plenty more rookies to name but this was just a quick snapshot of some highly rated youngsters out there. As always, rookie investing can be a lottery but the opportunity for values to rise very quickly is there for all to see, should you be lucky enough to have invested in the right player that is!

Written by:

Dan Sullivan / @sullys_sportscards

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