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2023-24 Donruss Soccer Guide

2023-24 donruss soccer

The Donruss Soccer product is particularly international, using a cross-section of players from around the world. As such, it serves as the flagship release for club soccer.

The product is also beloved for its excellent inserts, a quality the Donruss releases across the different sports share. Therefore, Donruss Soccer is one of the top sports products, especially for April.

But how does the upcoming release compare to previous years? Read our 2023-24 Donruss Soccer Review to find out.

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History of Donruss Soccer

As you probably know, Donruss was an American card company. Founded in 1954, they moved into sports in the 1980s and had some fun and successful releases before Panini acquired them in 2009.

The new parent company introduced a new line of streamlined Donruss products in 2014, most notably Donruss Basketball. Panini first introduced the wonders of Donruss Soccer to the world in 2015.

The inaugural release, 2015 Donruss Soccer Cards, brought together cards representing players in their international and club uniforms.  It featured a minimal checklist of only 100 players. But had a nice set of parallels and a generous number of autographs, especially for those days.

However, the real attraction was (and remains) the inserts. Those first hobby boxes came with one guaranteed auto, which is nice. But more importantly, they included at least 30 inserts, and many of them were killers. Every position had its own insert, and they were all beautiful.

Unfortunately, the 2016-17 box dropped the guaranteed auto and lowered the number of inserts from 30 to 24. However, it had a cool Canvas/Mosaic parallel for the boxes that did not include one. It also expanded the base checklist to 200. A more appropriate number for a product that sees itself as a flagship offering.

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Donruss Soccer runs into trouble

It’s never a good sign when a product starts to skip years, but that began to happen to Donruss’s soccer with some frequency. No product was released in 2017-18, and soccer fans were left bereft of Donruss. But Panini brought it back a year later.

It was a bit different now. Each hobby box had two guaranteed autographs. They also included a lot of 2018-19 Donruss Optic Soccer to attract more collectors.

However, the most significant improvement in the revamped product was the introduction of the “Rated Rookie” designation to these cards. In the 1980s, Donruss sports cards used those significantly in their baseball products, and they had become iconic in the hobby. Y

et, for some inexplicable reason, Panini did not use them in the two earliest Donruss Soccer releases, preferring to label the rookies as “Donruss Debuts” instead. Needless to say, this change was a successful one, which later bolstered sales and popularity.

Nonetheless, the struggles continued in the short term. Donruss Soccer was not released for two years. During that time, a couple of significant developments occurred. The COVID-19 era sports card boom took place. Furthermore, soccer took several steps forward in the United States.

The combination of the two led many to believe (incorrectly, as it turned out) that soccer cards were the next big thing in the hobby. But Panini missed an opportunity by dithering on releasing Donruss Soccer at that time, despite its clear potential.

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Donruss Soccer comes back strong

When Panini finally released the product again, it was the underwhelming 2021-22 Donruss Soccer Road to Qatar. A release focused on the World Cup qualifiers, not the most fascinating competition in the world. It was also notable for having far too many senior “rookies” for comfort.

But we are happy to report that the product seems to have found its stride since then. The 2022-23 Donruss Soccer was a strong and more confident release. The combination of solid inserts, attractive parallels, and “press proof” versions of Rated Rookie cards are now familiar and beloved to soccer fans. Meanwhile, the presence of solid has also done its part,

2023-24 Donruss Soccer release date

This release isn’t technically representative of a specific league. Therefore, there is no clear season to begin or end. Nonetheless, the soccer season in the European leagues (from which just about all these players stem from) is similar from location to location. It starts in August and ends in May.

Therefore, the April 17, 2024, release date is pretty late in the day. The natural culmination of the European soccer season is the European Champions League Final, which will take place on June 1, 2024, at Wembley Stadium.

I think I speak for all hobby enthusiasts when I say we would like to see products released earlier in the season. That is particularly true for flagship-style products of this sort.

How does this compare to previous years? It is identical to the previous iteration’s April 14, 2023 release. But it was not so long ago that this product had far better dates. The 2021-22 Donruss Soccer Road to Qatar box dropped on December 22, 2021.

Just in time for Christmas, not the end of the season! To be fair to Panini, we have seen some improvement in this matter for several of their more extensive products. But soccer fans are getting the short shrift here. That seems to happen a lot.

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2023-24 Donruss Soccer release formats

Donruss Soccer has been in an exciting spot with release formats. Of course, Donruss is a traditionally low-end release with a strong emphasis on retail products. However, Donruss Soccer boxes have often been extremely expensive and sought after.

The release has been far more hobby-oriented than you would expect from a Donruss release. Nevertheless, Panini has traditionally released retail formats as well.

We don’t yet have all the details on the retail formats of 2023-24 Donruss Soccer. However,we have some. We have extrapolated information from previous years’ releases where it is unavailable.

2023-24 Donruss Soccer Hobby Box

  • 30 cards per pack
  • 12 packs per box
  • 12 per case
  • On average, look for 1 autograph, 1 memorabilia card, 48 inserts or insert parallels, and 100+ optics or optic parallels per box.
  • A box presells for $299.95
  • No cases are available for sale yet

Blaster

  • 15 cards per pack
  • 6 packs per box
  • A box presells for $29.99

Value Box

  • 25 cards per pack
  • 12 packs per box
  • The box from the last release sells for $109

Fat Pack

  • 25 cards per pack
  • A pack from the previous release sells for $8.99

2023-24 Donruss Soccer pros

There are two massive pros for Donruss Soccer over most other sports releases. First is the “Rated Rookie” format for first-year players. It is far more relaxed and more attractive than the minimalist RC designation that Prizm uses, for example.

The second is the inclusion of the best selection of inserts for any product on the market. Yes, I do not say that lightly. No other brand comes close to providing top-notch items like Crunch Time, the Marvels set, and Kaboom! And it doesn’t stop there (yes, I sound like a 3 AM shopping segment on cable).

When Donruss introduces new inserts, they tend to be more attractive and well thought out than those in other products.

The inclusion of chromium Donruss Optic cards in the last few years has been a boon to this release. This year, every hobby box has 100 Donruss Optic cards (at least).

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2023-24 Donruss Soccer cons

There is a general consensus that Panini has been watering down its blasters in recent years. It seems increasingly complex to hit anything really good in this format.

Soccer collectors have noted that Donruss cards seem particularly hard hit. From my own experience, I can attest that blasters for this release tend to yield poor results.

For whatever reason, Panini did not include the base card design in the press mockups they released. Seems like a weird oversight to me. But they will likely match the 2023-24 Donruss Basketball design, which was impressively ugly.

Usually, this brand is somewhat under-decorated. That is part of its identity and appeal. But this year, they went all out with color and business. The result is deeply unappetizing.

That is a problem for a flagship-style release. It won’t help that the 2022-23 Donruss Soccer design was another horror, with its misshapen cubes. The poor design has translated into some of the hits. In particular, the Night Moves case hit, which has proven very popular, looks much worse.  

Price woes of Donruss Soccer

The price was way down for the 2022-23 release, and you could pick up a box for $200. Pretty good for this kind of product. But this year, many places are selling it for double that.

You can also find it for $300, including the link we provided above. However, that is still a massive increase from $200. If anything, it appears that soccer cards are slowly losing their luster, making it hard to justify a significant increase in the price.

So, while this is better than the $500 Donruss Soccer was going for during the COVID-19 era, it’s still arguably more than this release is worth. We will delve deeper into that when we analyze the value of the product.

It is worth remembering that Donruss is printed on flimsy stock and should be cheap. This product has a history of poor quality control. The cheap stock and lack of attention to the cheaper releases are part of the problem.

It seems like a shame to have such a great set of inserts and then not bother to print them right. Hopefully, Panini will do better this time.

The rookie class 2023-24 Donruss Soccer

Unfortunately, Panini has yet to release its checklist for this product. So we will have to put a pin in this. But have no fear. We will give you an overview of the 25 Rated Rookies in this product when the checklist is out.

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2023-24 Donruss Soccer checklist

We still need all the checklist information we would like. However, we know the entire base checklist will consist of 200 players. Everyone will be looking for the 25 Rated Rookies.

Parallels

As we have mentioned, one of the significant advantages of this release are all the Donruss Optic cards you get. It’s like opening a box of regular Bowman and getting many Bowman Chrome cards. Always a nice bonus. They come in the following parallels:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Teal Mojo
  • Purple Mojo

Inserts

The Donruss Soccer release has an incredible 48 inserts, so quality is more important than most other products. The lineup of inserts is solid and based on some old, reliable items. But are there any new inserts making the scene? Let’s take a look.  

Craftsmen

The Craftsmen insert features the best playmakers and chance creators in world soccer. The designs for it have varied over the years. The one featured in the 2022-23 release was particularly good. It sketched out plays on a coach chalkboard behind the players, vastly preferable to the more generic form of the previous year.

Crunch Time

There is a rule with the Crunch Time insert. The more it looks like an actual cereal box, the better. Sometimes, they put the players on the box. Other times, Panini uses the distinctive Crunch Time logo. With the box, it’s a classic.

Without it, these are pointless. I don’t make the rules. The good news is that Panini have gotten the memo and put the box front and center. The new design isn’t the best they ever made. But I like it.

What about value? Well, we know these cards are loved. But not loved enough for people to spend a lot on them. They are pretty much worthless. The best (and worst) thing about these cards is that whenever I see one, I crave Captain Crunch.

Kaboom!

There is no question about it. Kaboom! It is the most popular insert in the hobby, and any product that includes these cards is blessed with increased value and desirability. There isn’t much variation in these inserts. If you have seen one, you have seen them all.

They don’t vary much from year to year or sport to sport. But who cares? These case hits make the bank.

Net Marvels

The Marvel inserts are among the best things the Donruss release offers. I have already written an article on why these cards are fabulous and culturally relevant. But I will say briefly that their cultural importance and aesthetic appeal create a remarkable meeting of reasons to collect these cards.

It’s arguably the most critical insert in Donruss since you don’t get many Kaboom! Cards are both beloved and a more realistic thing to land when you are ripping.

Until recently, I have found that the value of the Marvels cards has been lower than you would expect. However, recently, some of the basketball editions of Net Marvels have really taken off. However, with soccer, the value is still surprisingly low.

Even some of the best 1/1s are selling for a mere $300. They will probably go for more eventually, but that is quite unimpressive.

Night Moves

First, let’s props to the great Bob Seger for the classic song that inspired this wonderful insert. People were skeptical when Panini introduced a new case hit in Night Moves, but it has certainly proven to be one of their better ones. The concept is simple: a night sky with a colorful cosmic formation in the background. The cards are beautiful and classy.

The value is not sky-high. There are no recent Night Moves soccer cards sales for more than $1,000. Meanwhile, only the biggest stars (think Messi, Haaland, and Mbappe) fetch over $500 for these.  

Pitch Kings

In theory, the Pitch Kings insert is a good idea. It is an illustrated portrait of the biggest stars, unlike the old-school Diamond Kings from the fondly remembered Donruss releases of the 1980s. But the execution has been pretty mediocre for these in the past.

They are neither nostalgic in their execution nor completely modern. Therefore, they occupy an uncomfortable middle ground. I haven’t seen the design for 2023-24 yet, so there is hope they will do better this time.

Few of these cards have had much value. However, the Bukayo Saka rookie sells for over $500.

Autos

No one buys Donruss because it is a happy hunting ground for autos. Nonetheless, there is a decent selection of this product. They come at a rate of one signed card per box, which is good news.

Of course, Donruss is not a high-end product. Therefore, the autos it includes are invariably sticker autos rather than on-card.

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The Beautiful Game

These are the best-loved autos in the Donruss product. There are also dual autos, known imaginatively as The Beautiful Game Duals. The Beautiful Game tends to have a simple design, befitting its elegant and straightforward name.  

There have been various designs over the years. However, the most successful ones tend to have the words “The Beautiful Game” emblazoned in delicate cursive handwriting. Luckily, in the 2023-24 release, Panini has gone back to basics.

Gone are the ugly, colorful 2021-22 Donruss explorations, replaced by simplicity. However, the auto stickers are more visible than usual. While Panini has always used stickers from these autos, they used to be more subtle. Do better!

Signature Series

The Signature Series is the less attractive and sophisticated sibling of The Beautiful Game autos. It tends to feature a cruder design. In the 2022-23 release, for example, Panini did not separate the words signature and series, creating an unseemly word jumble.

The market differentiates between the two autos, and they prefer The Beautiful Game significantly. Several cards among the latter have sold for well over $2,000 in recent months. Meanwhile, none of the Signature Series autos reach that, though several sold for over $1,000.

Memorabilia cards in Donruss Soccer 2023-24

There aren’t many options for memorabilia in Donruss Soccer, and none are guaranteed in the hobby boxes. But there are at least two options in the 2023-24 Donruss Soccer, so let’s get to it.

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Kit Kings

The Kit Kings has a simple but dynamic and colorful design. We don’t know how it will look for 2023-24, but last year’s one was gorgeous. Of course, the name Kit Kings refers to the classic Court Kings (or Diamond Kings) series, which was a massive attraction in classic Donruss releases.

It even features the iconic crown logo from that release. Honestly, I love these cards. What about value? Sadly, most people don’t like Kit Kings as much as I do. Even the Messi versions sell for about $150. Come on!

Kit Series

The Kit Series tends to be less elegant and attractive than its royal cousin. The swatches are presented in an unappealing box form, and the whole card gives off an unimaginative vibe. I am not a fan; what can I say?

The market is more forgiving. None of the swatch cards in this product go for much. But these definitely do better than Kit Kings. The best cards here go for over $200.  Folks, you have no taste.  

2023-24 Donruss Soccer value

Donruss was originally conceived as a reasonably priced flagship product. But for better or worse, it hasn’t really turned out that way.

The market for sports cards became very expensive in the early 2020s, and Donruss was one of the brands that saw a massive increase in price over that time. That was greatly influenced by the beautiful selection of inserts we have showcased here.

The upshot is that boxes of Donruss are not cheap anymore. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. The boxes do well on the secondary market, and many of the singles are strong and sought after.

There has also been a decrease in the price of Donruss Soccer, specifically over the last two years. So, where does that leave the value of this product? Let’s dig in.

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Wax

Not long ago, a new box of Donruss Soccer went for over $500. Therefore, it is nice to see if it is below the $300 range. But does that mean this is a good deal? Let’s see how the old boxes are doing.

ReleaseValue
2016-17 Donruss Soccer Hobby Box$1,389
2018-19 Donruss Soccer Hobby Box$999.95
2021-22 Donruss Soccer Hobby Box$219.99
2022-23Donruss Soccer Hobby Box$309.95

The first thing that jumps out is the massive price differential between the pre-COVID and post-COVID hobby boxes. Fewer of these cards were printed back then, and no one bought soccer cards to make a profit at the time. Therefore, there aren’t many of the older boxes around.

In other words, you cannot expect the new boxes to reach those numbers. Not even close. So, let’s ignore those prices and look at the more recent ones. The numbers are not earth-shattering. But I wouldn’t be too discouraged either.

As I mentioned, the 2021-22 Donruss Soccer was not a good release. Therefore, its meager price is an anomaly. The more recent box is a better representative and is already going for more than the new price just a year later. That is a pretty good sign. I believe these boxes will be worth a reasonable $500 or so.

Singles

As I have repeatedly said, there are great inserts in Donruss Soccer. This release also features a few top-notch rookies. So, let’s take a look at how they do on the singles market.

CardValue
2021-22 Panini Donruss Road to Qatar Lionel Messi 1/1 1991 Tribute #10 1/1$2,850
2022-23 Panini Donruss Lionel Messi Kaboom! Insert #2 (Raw)$2,400
2022-23 Panini Donruss Erling Haaland Fifa Signature Series Blue Auto (PSA 10)$1,999
2021-22 Donruss Qatar Pele The Beautiful Game Auto Autograph #BG-P (PSA 10)$1,575
2022-23 Donruss Soccer Lionel Messi – The Beautiful Game Auto (Raw)

The Donruss Optic cards do noticeably better than their Donruss Soccer equivalent, which is no surprise. However, for a $300 box, there is a pretty good and deep selection of cards in this release that are worth several times the box price. However, they tend to be of the same few players.

There isn’t a massive market for soccer players outside of, say, 10 with broader recognition in the United States. That is a shame. But the next generation of superstars is just ready to be born.

Overall, Donruss Soccer gives you good value. The boxes aren’t a surefire get-rich scheme, but they should do well after a couple of years on the shelves. Like in any product, most boxes will not be worth the amount you pay.

However, there is more of a likelihood of recouping your investment here than in many other products because many of the inserts and autos are pretty popular and have strong values.

Final word on 2023-24 Donruss Soccer

Donruss Soccer remains one of the more vital soccer releases on the market. Its secret is simple. It includes the best players from all the big leagues, thus increasing the number of stars and rookies on the checklist. It also presents a particularly strong insert selection and a small but beautiful auto selection with those players.

The recent price reduction has only made this product more compelling and attractive. At $500 a box, it was just not delivering strong enough cards to justify pulling the trigger. But now, at $300, there is no question that it offers a good return.

It offers a fun rip, great inserts, a good checklist, and perhaps even a return on investment. That is more than most products deliver.

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Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is the emeritus editor of Cardlines. He continues to write for several hobby outlets, including this one and Cardbase. He collects primarily vintage baseball and soccer and has a weird obsession with 1971 Topps.

In his spare time, Shaiel is sobbing into his bourbon when the Mets lose and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In a past life, Dr. Ben-Ephraim was a political science professor, journalist, and diplomat. But cards are more fun.
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