Imagine a situation where buyout clauses, wages, fees, personal agreements, image rights, and agent demands aren’t decisive details that furnish the modern transfer.
Now, adopt the North American template for swapping players, and suddenly, a slew of potential trades between clubs becomes a possibility. Here’s a look at five such moves:
Hakan Calhanoglu – Emil Forsberg
Those privy to AC Milan’s weekend stalemate with Napoli may have been left to ponder: “What in the heck has happened to Hakan?” Turkish attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu and Rossoneri mate Franck Kessie shared the accolade of worst player on the pitch at the San Siro, and after a year-and-a-half in Serie A, it’s clear that the 24-year-old dead-ball buff could use a change of scenery.
Back to the Bundesliga for Calhanoglu in hopes of revisiting better days at spent whilst with Bayer Leverkusen, this time to join a budding RB Leipzig squad in exchange for Emil Forsberg.
Both occupy similar positions on the left side, with the Swede content to veer towards a central role if need be. Milan’s new forward target, Krzysztof Piatek, could benefit from Forsberg’s service – where out of sorts Calhanoglu has failed. After a groin strain cost Forsberg his spot in Leipzig’s starting XI this season, a move to Italy would give the 27-year-old’s once-auspicious career a much-needed kick in the pants.
Milan Skriniar – Alexis Sanchez (plus €20M)
Even with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cinderella-like transformation of a Manchester United side that suffered under his predecessor, the Red Devils still have a glaring need for a commanding central defender. After last summer’s pursuit yielded only beef for a Sunday roast between Jose Mourinho and Ed Woodward, United could turn their gaze to Inter and star ball-stopper Milan Skriniar.
One of Europe’s most desired defensive rocks, Skriniar, 23, would make the move to the Theatre of Dreams for Alexis Sanchez, who’s had a nightmare of a year. United would sweeten the pot by tossing in €20 million, a drop in the tip cup for a club that splashed more than half that amount for milk carton portraiture, Fred.
Should Ivan Perisic get his wish and seal a departure, Inter could use a left-sided attacker to link-up with, and rather than depending on the undependable Antonio Candreva (despite his current top-tier coiffure), Sanchez could be the man to boost Inter’s attack and revive his own career in the process. A final European pedestal for the tireless Chilean – in a similar vein to countryman Ivan Zambrano’s stay at Inter nearly 20 years earlier – would help Luciano Spalletti’s charges secure a Champions League berth.
Isco – Christian Eriksen
Countless reports linking Tottenham talisman Christian Eriksen with a career-defining move to the Santiago Bernabeu are a damning omen for a Spurs side far less creative without the playmaking Dane in the XI. Forget the absence of trophies and the now-tenuous grip on the top-four due to injuries, simply put, Tottenham’s current wage structure cannot compete with Real Madrid.
Spurs could do with a reported £100-million gain on the crafty 26-year-old, but they could also do with a world-class talent like Isco, offering the player a much-needed lifeline amid inexplicable malpractice by current Los Blancos boss Santiago Solari.
Four-time Champions League winner Isco could wander the same channels and pose a threat on the fringes of the penalty area like Eriksen, and in signing the Spaniard, Spurs would curry favor with manager Mauricio Pochettino amid continued links with Real. Isco’s addition would also mark a statement for a Tottenham side hampered by a dearth of summer signings predated by mid-range moves like Lucas Moura that have done little to legitimize fleeting title ambitions.
Allan – Marquinhos
Albeit at the risk of disrupting Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian core, the capital city club would profit from addressing one area of need by jettisoning another from one of abundance. Under Thomas Tuchel, central defender Marquinhos has flirted with a defensive midfield role to mixed results, and with Thiago Silva enjoying a rebirth under the German tactician’s watch alongside the likes of Presnel Kimpembe and Thilo Kehrer, PSG could make do at the back until the summer.
What PSG have lacked is a defensive midfielder, and while that’s been in-part addressed by Leandro Paredes’ signing from Zenit, should Tuchel fancy unlocking Marco Verratti further, Napoli’s Allan could be the energetic, tough tackling piece in a midfield tasked with safeguarding the backline. The absence of a hermetic midfield has repeatedly cost PSG in Europe.
Napoli chief and soundbite meme generator Aurelio Di Laurentiis claimed it’ll take a small fortune to loosen his wrinkled talons from Allan, but with Kalidou Koulibaly likely to fetch the highest-ever fee for a defender as early as this summer, the Serie A side could do worse than replace the towering Senegalese international with Marquinhos at the back.
Thiago Alcantara – Federico Bernardeschi (plus €25M)
Continental tyrants Bayern Munich and Juventus have been here before. It’s a bit like dating in a small town, and following exchanges for Arturo Vidal, Mehdi Benatia, Kingsley Coman, and Douglas Costa, the two could dance again in a move that would require some crafty sales work from the Italians.
There’s an argument to be made that Federico Bernardeschi is both better than Serge Gnabry and a more versatile and reliable than Coman. With opportunities chiefly limited to appearances off the bench under Max Allegri, the 24-year-old attacker presents a stab at unlocking a zealous talent who, at Fiorentina, played on either side when not in behind the striker.
Juventus have enjoyed plenty of luck with transfers – a freebie for Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey the latest illustration – though in this instance, Thiago Alcantara won’t come cheap. There’s a reason Pep Guardiola wrested the player while at Bayern, saying “Thiago can play in three, four, or five different positions in midfield,” and for all the skill in Allegri’s midfield, no one player stows the all-around technical savvy of Thiago.