Football might be slowly returning amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the transfer window is likely to feel the financial impact for a while to come. As a result, clubs will turn to swap deals in a bid to move players on and bring in others for a cheaper fee. Here are some of the top players that teams could use as makeweights.
*All transfer values taken from Transfermarkt.
It seems Aubameyang isn’t going to sign a new contract, so Arsenal will need to do the best deal they can this summer. £50m is good value for a player with a deal expiring in 2021, and he could be key in a move for any or all of Barcelona‘s Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Samuel Umtiti.
The Gunners already have a ready-made replacement in striker Alexandre Lacazette — although sources have told ESPN that the France international is seeking assurances on his role under manager Mikel Arteta next season — as well as youngsters Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah. Though the impact of Arsenal selling their captain and leading scoring should not be underestimated, so they need to make sure any players that come in as part of any deal are top quality.
Willian and Pedro look likely to be leaving Chelsea this summer on free transfers so they wouldn’t be much use as part of a swap deal, but midfielder Jorginho is certainly of interest to Maurizio Sarri at Juventus, who previously worked with him at Napoli and Chelsea. That means a move for Miralem Pjanic (£46m) could almost be like-for-like in midfield, though the Blues might also have eyes on left-back Alex Sandro (£36m) — particularly if they can’t land top target Ben Chilwell from Leicester — or winger Douglas Costa (£22m). Sources have told ESPN that RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner is on his way for around £49m, so the Blues have sorted their striker issue already.
It must be hard to play second fiddle to the “Fab Three” of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, and Shaqiri won’t wait forever. He could be a useful addition to a much bigger deal, perhaps even as a part of an £85m move for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, with the Switzerland international having played in the Bundesliga for three years between 2012 and 2015 at Bayern Munich. If defence is more of a priority for manager Jurgen Klopp, Shaqiri could head to Sevilla as part of a deal for £30m-rated Diego Carlos, though the Spanish club might fancy a direct replacement in the form of Dejan Lovren (£14m) instead.
Yes, the Chile forward is still a Manchester United player, and it seems unlikely that Inter Milan will sign him on a permanent deal following his loan. Sanchez is on mega-wages, but he’s a valuable asset and could be used in deals for Borussia Dortmund‘s Jadon Sancho, or Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. However, United will probably still be a little sore about their most recent major swap deal, which saw Sanchez head to Old Trafford from Arsenal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in 2018 — a move that failed for both clubs.
MAN CITY: Joao Cancelo (£32m)
Manchester City haven’t made the best decisions when it comes to signing full-backs, but having swapped Danilo for Cancelo with Juventus last year, the Portugal defender could be used as a pawn to land his fellow countryman Nelson Semedo from Barcelona. Some reports have suggested that Barcelona would then use Cancelo to bring down the £99m price of long-term target Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan, a move that would see Cancelo rejoin the club where he spent 2017-18 on loan.
Ndombele has been at the club for only a year but has clearly failed to impress manager Jose Mourinho. The France international cost a reported £52m when they signed him from Lyon so Spurs will have to take a financial hit, but they could use the midfielder as part of a deal to land a top striker like Real Betis‘ Loren Moron and then replace him in midfield with Southampton‘s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who could move to London if loanee Kyle Walker-Peters (£7.2m) is included in the deal.
Mark Ogden states why Manchester United will not be signing James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.
James cost Real Madrid £63m when he signed after starring for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, but failed to cement his place and was sent on a two-year loan to Bayern Munich from 2017 to 2019. Seemingly with no future at the Bernabeu now, the 28-year-old could be offered up as a makeweight for plenty of deals, including midfielder Paul Pogba from Man United, Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland or Napoli defender Koulibaly. In fact, whomever arrives at Madrid this summer, it’s almost certain that Rodriguez will be heading the other way in order to bring down the cost.
BARCELONA: Nelson Semedo (£28.8m)
Some players just seem to have inherited the “swap deal” mantle. Like Rodriguez, Barcelona full-back Semedo has been linked with a host of clubs — notably those that have a player of interest to go the other way. Juventus for Pjanic, PSG for Neymar and Inter for Lautaro Martinez are just a handful of destinations he has been linked with, though swapping clubs with Manchester City’s Cancelo could work out best for both parties.
Lemar has drawn plenty of interest from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal, but Atletico Madrid will want to ensure that they get good value as they spent £70m on him in 2018 and he’s still only 24 years old. If they can persuade Arsenal to part with Alexandre Lacazette (£43m) they would view that as an excellent move, while United could offer Alexis Sanchez (£15m) — a player who would surely thrive under coach Diego Simeone’s hard-working system.
The Germany winger’s career has stalled somewhat in recent seasons — unsurprising given he’s had to play behind Kylian Mbappe and Neymar — but Draxler still has something to offer, and if PSG are keen to land Aubameyang then Arsenal might listen to a swap. Inter striker Mauro Icardi has made his loan at PSG permanent in a reported £51m move without any players included, but the French club will need to explore full-back options with Layvin Kurzawa and Thomas Meunier departing for nothing this summer, so Draxler could well be included there.
JUVENTUS: Miralem Pjanic (£46.8m)
Pjanic has been linked with plenty of clubs, and swaps appear to be key for Juventus. They could include the midfielder in a deal with Chelsea for Jorginho, or as part of a bigger deal for Man United’s Pogba, but Barcelona seem to be the ones most keen to sign him and are willing to include Arthur Melo (though sources told ESPN that the Brazil international is not keen to leave Spain.) In addition to Arthur, midfielders Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Carles Alena have also been offered to the Italians, as well as centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo and our old friend Semedo. One of them surely has to stick.
Inter spent the previous transfer window picking up Premier League misfits such as Ashley Young and Victor Moses, as well as the impressive Christian Eriksen, but could be set to send a player back the other way. Godin hasn’t settled since his summer move from Atletico, and both Man United and Tottenham are reportedly keen on the defender. If Inter are interested in landing Sanchez on a permanent deal, or picking up versatile Spurs defender Juan Foyth, they could send the 34-year-old as a sweetener.
Bayern want to improve their wide options after last year’s retirement of Arjen Robben and the sale of Franck Ribery, and Coman seems dispensable. Rated at around £36m, the French winger could be perfect fodder to include in a £72m deal for Manchester City’s Leroy Sane given that the German club won’t pay that much outright. Also, if they land Ivan Perisic (£15m) from Inter Milan on a permanent deal once his loan expires, it might hasten Coman’s exit.