These players have often gone on to win silverware for their new employers.
Manchester United exchanging Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal is one of the prominent swap deals in recent memory. That move fell terribly wrong for both clubs eventually. However, there have been instances of football teams and players benefitting from such swap deals. Replacing a star footballer is often an arduous task for any club and their task is cut short if they replace that professional with another individual from the same transfer. In the following, we talk about five such remarkable swap deals that have taken place in the top five European leagues.
5. Nemanja Matic + £20m (Chelsea) for David Luiz (Benfica)
Nemanja Matic was traded to former club Benfica in 2011. Chelsea paid an additional £20m along with Matic to secure centre-back David Luiz. Both these players endured multiple stints at the club and were fairly successful in their respective spells. The Serbia international was vital in Benfica’s Taca de Liga and Primeira Liga victories.
On the other hand, David Luiz won the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea. He played the whole 120 minutes in the finals and even converted from the spot in the penalty shoot-out. In 2014, the London-based club sold the Brazilian to Paris Saint-Germain for a £50 million transfer fee. Thus, this swap deal turned out to be quite beneficial for all parties involved.
4. Roberto Carlos + £1m (Inter Milan) for Ivan Zamorano (Real Madrid)
Ivan Zamorano was a stellar striker for Real Madrid in the 1990s. His goalscoring exploits caught Inter Milan’s attention. The Italian club offered left-back Roberto Carlos and a £1m fee to Madrid. Carlos developed to become an icon for the Spanish giants, who is till date considered one of the most successful players to come out from swap deals.
The Brazilian spent 11 years at the club. He won four LaLiga and three UEFA Champions League titles there. Zamorano aided Inter in claiming the UEFA Cup in 1997-98. He had scored the opening goal in the final against Lazio. Zamorano’s form, however, later declined as his tenure progressed in Italy. However, it was a given considering Carlos was entering the last phase of his career at the Nerazzurri.
3. Ricardo Quaresma + £13m (Barcelona) for Deco (Porto)
Porto’s Champions League victory in 2003-04 made Europe take notice of midfielder Deco. Barcelona acquired him by sending Ricardo Quaresma the other way round. The Blaugrana also paid an additional fee of £13m as a part of the deal. Quaresma scored 27 goals in 114 league matches for Porto across four seasons.
The club also bagged three Primeira Liga trophies and a solitary Taca de Portugal during the midfielder’s time there. Deco regularly featured in Barcelona’s setup too. The Catalans lifted a couple of LaLiga titles and won the Champions League in 2005-06. Needless to say, Deco was an important part of these triumphs and one of the most successful players to come out from swap deals.
2. William Gallas + £5m (Chelsea) for Ashley Cole (Arsenal)
This is one of the most notable transfer sagas of the Premier League era. Both William Gallas and Ashley Cole were pushing for a move away from Chelsea and Arsenal respectively. Gallas had apparently threatened to intentionally score own goals if he was not allowed to leave the Blues. Cole was fined £75,000 by the league for contacting Chelsea over a possible move without informing Arsenal.
Both players eventually secured their desired deals on the deadline day of summer transfer window in 2006. Cole won the Premier League, multiple FA Cups, Champions League and the Europa League in his eight-year long stay at Chelsea. Gallas fared fairly well too and later left Arsenal to join Tottenham Hotspur in 2010.
1. Samuel Eto’o + £35m (Barcelona) for Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan)
In one of the most iconic swap deals of this century, FC Barcelona traded Samuel Eto’o and £35m to obtain Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2009. Both these forwards were at the top of their game back then. The Cameroonian’s exit from Spain wasn’t on the best of terms. He shared an acrimonious relation with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. Interestingly, Ibrahimovic endured a tumultuous time with the seasoned tactician too.
However, the Sweden international scored 16 goals in 29 league matches in 2009-10. He was unwilling to shift out wide to accommodate Lionel Messi at the centre. Hence, Ibrahimovic left Barcelona to join AC Milan in 2010. Eto’o flourished under Jose Mourinho’s tutelage at Inter. He was a key member of Mourinho’s treble-winning team of 2009-10.