Across Europe, transfer windows are slowly opening, but as clubs move to line up potential deals and consider the cost of improving their squads, many of them are hit by the same regrettable realisation: The disruption to football that a global pandemic has caused leaves them with significantly less funding to work with than before.

Even the biggest have been affected: Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has lowered expectations when it comes to big signings, per El Transistor (h/t the MailOnline). Borussia Dortmund are expecting losses close to €50 million, and Manchester United are desperately trying to lower BVB’s demands for Jadon Sancho, per B/R’s Dean Jones.

Not every club is struggling—Chelsea’s 2019 transfer ban means they have cash to burn, and they’re doing just that, while Manchester City seem undeterred in their pursuit of targets—but the majority are. The teams without such funding may well have to consider alternative methods for acquiring new players.

That’s right, you guessed it: swap deals.

Clubs across Europe may lack cash, but they don’t lack playing assets. In fact, some clubs have so many spare parts and unwanted outcasts, it makes complete sense to trade in players, not euros.

Mutually beneficial swap deals are perhaps easier proposed than sealed—and that’s saying something, because even proposing them is tough—but we’ve put together five here that are realistic and would make sense for every party involved.

Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg, CM, Southampton


Kyle Walker-Peters, RB, Tottenham Hotspur

This one makes too much sense not to happen.

Tottenham’s interest in Hojbjerg is established, per B/R’s Dean Jones, and while he’s not the exact type of player their midfield needs, he does tick a lot of the boxes: commanding, mobile, aggressive, a prolific ball-winner and stabilising presence.

Spurs could cut the cost of the deal by using Kyle Walker-Peters, who has excelled on loan at Southampton, as a makeweight in the deal. Finally allowed his first run in a senior side (at age 23), the right-back has proved a big upgrade on Cedric Soares, who was sold to Arsenal in January.

KWP’s great form, age and upside could even bring the stock of these two players level—as in, no extra cash on one side to balance it. Straight swap, everyone wins.

Alex Telles, LB, Porto


Nicolas Otamendi, CB, Manchester City + £15m

Despite Joao Cancelo’s emergence as a force at left-back lately, City are still in the market at that position, per B/R’s Dean Jones.

The left-back market is a difficult one due to the extreme shortage of top-tier options, which drives prices high and makes each pursuit of a player a hotly contested one.

Telles is one of said top-tier options, having enjoyed four excellent seasons at Porto, and with just one year left on his contract, he holds all the power if he were to ask for a move.

City could use a player of his ilk on the left and would be able to pay cash. They’d also be able to supplement the deal with a player Porto know well in Otamendi, who spent four years there between 2010-2014, and even at 32 would lower the average age of their centre-back corps (Ivan Marcano is 33, Pepe is 37!).

Should there be a clamber for Telles’ signature this summer, City’s ability to trade player plus cash could push them to the front of the queue. Continue reading

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