Zlatan-Eto’o & the top 10 swap deals in football history

Zlatan-Eto’o & the top 10 swap deals in football history

Swap deals have risen in prominence over the last few years having been a relatively rarity before then.

Whether it be a simple swap player-for-player, or whether money is exchanged, including players in deals allows two transfers to be completed at the same time.

In the last few seasons the most notable swap deal involved Miralem Pjanic and Arthur Melo swapping from Juventus to Barcelona and vice-versa.

We’ve left this one out as it remains to be seen just how successful it will prove to be. But here are another 10 notable deals.


Andy Cole & Keith Gillespie (Newcastle & Man Utd, 1995)

Andy Cole may not be remembered as one of the greatest members of Manchester United’s treble winning side, but the forward’s prolific scoring certainly helped Sir Alex Ferguson’s side immensely over the course of his six-year stay with the club.

He had fired Newcastle among the Premier League title challengers while at St James’ Park, but while Kevin Keegan’s side stalled Cole came into his own and was a huge part of United’s late 90’s success.

Moving in the opposite direction was £6 million and Keith Gillespie, who was no slouch, but the winger was not the match-winner that Cole was. The transfer was valued at £7m, which was a British record at the time.

Roberto Carlos & Ivan Zamorano (Inter & Real Madrid, 1996)

When Roberto Carlos fell out with Inter head coach Roy Hodgson over his playing position, Real Madrid’s Fabio Capello could barely believe his luck.

Capello quickly requested Madrid directors headed to Milan to complete the deal, and it just so happened that Inter were interested in Los Blancos striker Ivan Zamorano, too.

Zamorano had been superb for Madrid, but the potential of Carlos was clear and so the deal was made. The Brazilian would go on to spend 11 years at Santiago Bernabeu, making 584 appearances.

Francesco Coco & Clarence Seedorf (Milan & Inter, 2002)

Francesco Coco was touted at Milan as a possible long-term successor to Paolo Maldini at left-back, but while the defender showed some promise early in his career, winning numerous Italy caps, he has faded into history’s background.

Zlatan-Eto’o & the top 10 swap deals in football history

Clarence Seedorf

He was used as leverage in a deal that saw Netherlands great Clarence Seedorf trade the black and blue of Inter for the red and black of Milan. A well-rounded midfielder, Seedorf had already played more than 100 league games with Real Madrid but spent his best years with the Rossoneri.

Seedorf featured in 300 Serie A matches for Milan over an illustrious 10-year career with the club, and he even returned to manage them briefly in 2014 after his playing career had ended.

Milan certainly got the better of a deal worth an estimated €28m.

Deco & Ricardo Quaresma (Porto & Barcelona, 2004)

Fresh off a Champions League victory with Porto in a season in which he was named the best midfielder of the tournament, Deco joined Barcelona in the summer of 2004.

Chelsea were believed to be leading the race for his signature as Jose Mourinho attempted to bring him from Porto to Stamford Bridge, but the Blaugrana eventually signed him.

Barcelona were a few million off Porto’s asking price at the time, so they included one Ricardo Quaresma in the deal, a player who achieved little in his short spell at Camp Nou.

Jermain Defoe & Bobby Zamora (West Ham & Tottenham, 2004)

If the January transfer window has become bereft of interest and big deals in recent seasons, that was not the case back in 2004, when Jermain Defoe joined Tottenham in a £7 million deal that also saw Bobby Zamora move to West Ham.

Defoe would go on to score 101 Premier League goals for Spurs across three different spells, but at that point he was still a relative newcomer, despite two seasons of top-flight experience with the Hammers.

Spurs got much the better end of this deal, and though Zamora still managed 30 league goals at Upton Park, he never lived up to the early promise he showed at Brighton.

Fabio Cannavaro & Fabian Carini (Inter & Juventus, 2004)

Remember Fabian Carini? Probably not. The goalkeeper was a makeweight in the 2004 deal that saw Fabio Cannavaro move from Inter to Juventus.

If Carini featured in only four times in a three-year career at Inter, Cannavaro would write a legacy that will see him remembered as one of the greatest defenders of all time.

Two years after the loan deal was concluded, he was the star of the Italy team that won the 2006 World Cup, paving the way for a move to Real Madrid, albeit in inglorious circumstances due to the Calciopoli scandal.

Ashley Cole & William Gallas (Arsenal & Chelsea, 2006)

Ashley Cole proved one of the best players to emerge from the Arsenal academy in his seven-year spell with the Gunners.

He won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups with the club, but he is now hated among Arsenal fans following his defection to rivals Chelsea.

Zlatan-Eto’o & the top 10 swap deals in football history

Ashley Cole

It wasn’t just that he was joining Arsenal’s city rivals, but that he was apparently doing so for money, which earned him the nickname ‘Cashley’.

When a transfer fee couldn’t be agreed upon, Chelsea threw William Gallas into the mix and that proved enough to seal the deal.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Eto’o (Inter & Barcelona, 2009)

Possibly the most famous swap deal of all time took place in 2009 when Barcelona paid €46m plus prolific striker Samuel Eto’o for Inter superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Eto’o had been superb for Barcelona and only a few months prior to he had scored the opening goal in the Champions League final victory against Manchester United.

Pep Guardiola wanted another style of No. 9, though, and it seemed like a perfect fit when Ibrahimovic was targeted.

While Eto’o went on to win the treble with Inter, though, Ibrahimovic had a tough time at Camp Nou after falling out with Guardiola, and left for Milan after just one season.

Nemanja Matic & David Luiz (Chelsea & Benfica, 2011)

Nemanja Matic’s first spell at Chelsea was easily forgotten. The Serbia midfielder managed just a handful of appearances for the Blues after arriving at the club in his early 20s, but Benfica saw enough to have him included in a deal that saw centre-back David Luiz move to Stamford Bridge for €25m.

Matic was transformed at Benfica. Instead of a playmaker, he became the defensive midfielder he is now known as, and was ultimately sold back to Chelsea in 2013 for €25m – effectively doubling the fee that they had received for Luiz in the first place.

Both players went on to enjoy significant careers at Stamford Bridge.

Alexis Sanchez & Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal & Man Utd, 2018)

Alexis Sanchez was a superstar in his period at Arsenal, but like many, before him, including Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie, he eventually sought a move away to try and win league titles.

Zlatan-Eto’o & the top 10 swap deals in football history

Alexis Sanchez

Unfortunately for him, his acquisition proved one of the most disastrous in Manchester United’s recent history, as while he hoovered up exorbitant wages in the region of £500k per week, his performances were far from memorable.

The Red Devils would eventually cut their loses and allow him to join Inter for free.

Moving the other way, Henrikh Mkhitaryan wasn’t much better at Arsenal, and even though this deal was only it 2018, both players have now moved on.