Sometimes clubs need to find alternatives to bring their desired assets to play with them than just pay the price a team is asking. Most of the time teams use a player they don’t want to keep and send them to a different club in exchange for a bigger figure.
This has been a common practice in football, although some have been more shocking and memorable than others. At this moment rumors are suggesting that some teams around Europe could actually make swap deals to land some assets this summer.
Manchester United and Internazionale were rumored to exchange Mauro Icardi for Romelu Lukaku; Real Madrid was rumored to do the same with the Red Devils but involving Gareth Bale and Paul Pogba, as well as Barcelona trying to persuade Paris Saint-Germain to let Neymar go in exchange for not one but two players.
Having in mind that these changes might be taking place this summer, it looks like a good time to remember the best and most famous exchanges made in football history. These are the 10 most memorable swap deals ever.
Honorable Mention: Andrea Pirlo for Andres Guglielminpietro (2001)
10. Fabio Cannavaro for Fabian Carini (2004)
Internazionale Milano haven’t been the best team making swap deals, and exchanging Andrea Pirlo for Andres Guglielminpietro is the best (or worst) example of that. Furthermore, the Nerazzurri made something similar three years later, when they parted ways with none other than Fabio Cannavaro.
Cannavaro was sent to Juventus in exchange for Uruguayan goalkeeper Fabian Carini. The center-back went to become one of the best defenders in Juventus history, being part of great defense in Turin alongside Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, and Gianluca Zambrotta.
Fabio went to win the World Cup and Ballon d’Or in 2006, while Carini didn’t have a really good performance in San Siro, making only four appearances over three years in the club.
9. Roberto Carlos for Ivan Zamorano (1995)
Ivan Zamorano was one of the best strikers in Europe back in 1995, but when a young player named Raul made his way through the first team thanks to his good performances, Los Blancos decided it was time to part with the Chilean forward. They decided to send Zamorano to Italy, where Inter waited for him with open arms.
In exchange, Real Madrid left-back Roberto Carlos, who went to become a total legend in the club. Roberto Carlos was considered one of the best in his position during his best days, and even though Zamorano did good for Inter, he’s not more remembered by his goals than he is for using the numbers 1 and 8 on his shirt to make a 9. Football was wild back then.
8. Diego Simeone for Christian Vieri (1999)
Christian Vieri was one of the most talented strikers in Italian football back in 1999, which made Inter give a lot to get him, including Diego Simeone. The Argentine defensive midfielder was packaged to Lazio in exchange for Vieri, but you can say the Capital team was the actual winner of this trade.
Although Inter put together two of the most dangerous strikers in the world in Christian Vieri and Ronaldo Nazario, the Australian-born Italian striker was able to win only a Coppa Italia trophy in the six years he spent at the Giuseppe Meazza. Simeone, on the other hand, won a league and cup double in the first of his four campaigns at Lazio. Seeing that they got Simeone plus £28 million, there is no doubt which team won this deal.
7. Jose Antonio Reyes for Julio Baptista (2006)
After an overwhelming tenure in Real Madrid, Julio Baptista was shipped to North London, where Arsenal waited for him. The Gunners sent the late Jose Antonio Reyes to the Spanish capital on a season-long loan that saw the Andalusian player become a reliable agent for Los Blancos.
Baptista didn’t have a good time with the Gunners, scoring only three goals in the Premier League, which obviously didn’t help Arsenal to finish on a higher spot than the fourth place on the scoreboard. Reyes helped Madrid with his six goals to win the La Liga trophy that season, even though he left the club right after that campaign was ended.
6. Nemanja Matic for David Luiz (2011)
This move was crazy as these two players ended up sharing touches at Stamford Bridge after being involved in a swap deal back in 2011. The Blues sent midfielder Matic for center-back David Luiz to Benfica in 2011, who had been just great for the Eagles.
Matic would go to exceed at Benfica, earning a comeback to Chelsea a couple of years later, where he teamed up with the Brazilian defender, helping the English side to win the Premier League in the 2016/17 season. Matic is now part of Manchester United while Luiz is still playing with Chelsea, even though his performances aren't that good as they used to.
5. Clarence Seedorf for Francesco Coco (2002)
Well, you know, just Inter doing their thing again. Back in 2002, they let Clarence Seedorf go, one of the best midfielders of his time in exchange for Francesco Coco. Yes, nobody knows who Francesco Coco is right now, while the Dutch midfielder is a total legend as he won trophies wherever he went during his career.
Coco was seen as ‘the next Paolo Maldini’ by some, but he was more entertained in off-field distractions and retired at the early age of 30 to go to the U.S. and try his luck at Hollywood. An absolute disaster for Inter.
4. Ashley Cole for William Gallas (2006)
William Gallas was a player hard to deal with, and Chelsea learned that the difficult way, as the center-back reportedly threatened to score own-goals if he wasn’t allowed to leave the club back in 2006. Ashley Cole, on the other hand, was very good at Arsenal, but some fans thought he was a player ready to play in a bigger club.
Well, Gallas did his thing once again in Arsenal, despite being named captain at some point of his stay at Emirates Stadium. He later went to join Tottenham Hotspur, where things were a little bit easier for him.
As for Cole, the left-back had a good time playing with the Blues, winning the league, four FA Cups and the Champions League. But, his off-field antics cost him his place in Chelsea and was shipped to Italy, where his career continued with Roma.
3. Deco for Ricardo Quaresma (2004)
Deco was one of the most coveted players in the summer transfer window of 2004. The Portuguese midfielder had a marvelous season helping Porto win the Champions League and the Portugal national team to reach the UEFA Euro final.
He chose to go to Barcelona, which made the Blaugrana send his compatriot, Ricardo Quaresma, back to Porto after an overwhelming season in Catalonia. Quaresma clashed with his boss Frank Rijkaard and was never able to fulfill all his potential. Deco, meanwhile, won two La Liga titles, two cups and the Champions League at the Camp Nou.
2. Alexis Sanchez for Henrikh Mkhitaryan (2018)
This is the most recent case of these swap deals and it’s got to be one of the oddest as neither one of the players involved in the exchange has been what their new teams and fans expected them to be. 18 months ago, Alexis Sanchez was one of the best footballers in the Premier League, which made Manchester United sign him, sending Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Emirates.
So far none of them has had a good tenure with their respective sides, even though Mkhitaryan has counted with more chances to display his game with the Gunners. Alexis’ spell at United has been just awful, scoring just 5 goals in 45 matches for the Red Devils across all competitions. The Chilean is on his way out of the team, after the worst year and a half he’s had in his career.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Samuel Eto’o (2009)
This has to be the first image that comes to your mind when you talk about soccer trades. Pep Guardiola and his Barcelona had won the famous triplet in 2009 when the Spaniard boss decided to dismantle the team, sending one of their biggest figures, Samuel Eto’o to Italy in exchange for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the best strikers in Europe at that time.
Well, this time Inter did it pretty good as they got to win this trade, with Eto’o joining Jose Mourinho’s squad and leading them to win the triplet that season, changing his style of play and making the right adjustments to take his team to the top of Europe and the world, even defeating the Blaugrana on his way to the glory.
Ibra, on the other hand, had anything but a good time in Barcelona, clashing with Pep Guardiola, especially after that game against Inter, according to the Swedish star. No doubt, this is the most memorable swap deal of all time.