Alexis-Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic-Eto'o and the biggest swap deals in football

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Manchester United and Arsenal have become the latest to trade, with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter having done likewise in the past

  1. Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Manchester United-Arsenal

    After flirting outrageously with Manchester City for the best part of six months, Sanchez has shacked up with the Blues’ neighbours at Old Trafford. Manchester United’s offer to make him the best-paid player in the Premier League proved enough to turn the Chilean’s head, while Arsenal were happy to get a ready-made replacement in Mkhitaryan. Ultimately, everybody seems to have got what they want…apart from City, but then the runaway Premier League leaders never really needed Sanchez anyway.

  2. Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Inter-Barcelona

    Barcelona won just about everything it is possible to win in 2009, but took the rather bemusing decision to break that team up by sending Eto’o and €35 million in the direction of Inter as Ibrahimovic made his way to Camp Nou. Eto’o would help to inspire another Treble triumph in Italy, while Ibrahimovic butted heads on a regular basis with Guardiola, writing in his autobiography of his time in Catalunya: "Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it. I thought, ‘There is my enemy, scratching his bald head!’ I yelled to him, ‘You have no balls!’ and probably worse things than that."

  3. Nemanja Matic-David Luiz: Benfica-Chelsea

    Having given Matic just three senior appearances, Chelsea agreed to let a highly-rated midfielder head to Benfica in January 2011 as part of a €25m deal for enigmatic Brazilian defender Luiz. The Blues quickly spotted the error of their ways and had to stump up another €25m to bring Matic back to west London three years later. They have also sold and re-signed Luiz since then, while moving Matic out once more to Manchester United for £40m in the summer of 2017.

  4. William Gallas-Ashley Cole: Arsenal-Chelsea

    Back in the summer of 2006, Gallas wanted out of Chelsea – amid accusations that he had threatened to score own goals if he was not allowed to leave (something he later refuted) – and Cole was looking for an upgrade to his trophy cabinet and bank balance. The solution to this problem? A swap deal which would also see Arsenal net £5m for their England international left-back. Cole went on to win everything at Stamford Bridge, while Gallas threw the odd strop with the Gunners before crossing north London to Tottenham.

  5. Antonio Nunez-Michael Owen: Liverpool-Real Madrid

    As part of their ‘Galactico’ policy, Real Madrid swooped to land former Ballon d’Or winner Owen from Liverpool in the summer of 2004. Bit-part midfielder Nunez was sent in the opposite direction as part of an £8m transfer, but both sides of the deal would spend just 12 months in new surrounds before returning from whence they came. Owen did net 16 times for Madrid, including in a Clasico clash with Barcelona, but he struggled for regular starts and Nunez fared little better at Anfield as he was moved on to Celta Vigo after making just 18 Premier League appearances.

  6. Roberto Carlos-Ivan Zamorano: Real Madrid-Inter

    Zamorano had helped Real to the La Liga title in 1995 with a 28-goal haul, but quickly slipped behind homegrown hero Raul in the pecking order. Inter offered him an escape route, with Roberto Carlos allowed to leave the San Siro after a frustrating year being used as a winger by Roy Hodgson. Zamorano’s time at Inter is now best remembered for him donning 1+8 on the back of his shirt, while Carlos is a modern-day icon who spent 11 trophy-laden years in Madrid – with his haul including three Champions League crowns and four La Liga titles. 

  7. Diego Simeone-Christian Vieri: Lazio-Inter

    Ambitious Inter assembled the world’s costliest strike-force when acquiring Vieri to partner Brazilian superstar Ronaldo. A world record £28m deal completed that pairing, with a proven performer in Serie A snapped up from rivals Lazio. Vieri would net over 100 goals for the Nerazzurri, but won just one Coppa Italia. Simeone, meanwhile, landed the Serie A title in his first season after being traded to Lazio – with a four-season stint in Rome proving to be the longest of his club career at any one team.

  8. Keith Gillespie-Andy Cole: Newcastle-Manchester United

    Netting 43 goals in just 58 Premier League appearances for Newcastle brought Cole to the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson, and the Manchester United boss happily sanctioned the piecing together of a British record £7m transfer package in January 1995. The £1m-rated Gillespie was sent to Newcastle as part of the deal and, while he came close to helping the Magpies get back on the trophy trail, Cole offered greater value to the Red Devils as he became an iconic figure at Old Trafford with 121 goals and eight major honours to his name.

  9. Ricardo Quaresma-Deco: Porto-Barcelona

    Deco was very much a man in demand in 2004 after helping Porto to Champions League glory under Jose Mourinho. Quaresma had been in a similar position 12 months earlier, having shone in his native Portugal at Sporting, but he had struggled to make the desired impact at Barcelona. A €15m offer from Barca allowed Deco and Quaresma to trade places, with those at Camp Nou getting a Portuguese raid right at the second time of asking as a classy playmaker helped them to silverware aplenty.

  10. Francesco Coco-Clarence Seedorf: Inter-AC Milan

    Inter do not have the best of records when it comes to trade deals down the years, with the Eto’o-Ibrahimovic deal about the only time that they have got things right. Another example of a deal that they got very much wrong was pushed through in 2002, with the Nerazzurri doing business with fellow San Siro tenants AC Milan. Inter took highly-rated, but easily distracted, left-back Coco as he swapped red for blue, with Dutch midfielder Seedorf doing the opposite. The former ended up retiring at the age of 30, while the latter conquered Italy and Europe on two occasions with the Rossoneri.