The summer transfer window is just around the corner, and, although the start date is yet to be defined due to the COVID-19 spread across Europe, it's already clear that it won't look like any we have seen so far. The pandemic has caused havoc to the fixture schedule and will also have a harmful effect on the upcoming transfer window.
Although big-money moves should not be entirely discarded quite yet, the majority of Europe's major clubs will likely have to come up with some inventive ideas to concretize their transfer plans.
We are going to witness an awkward transfer window, in all likelihood, with the ongoing crisis forcing teams to abandon their regular transfer policies and find a brand-new approach.
The prospect of like-for-like swap deals or player-plus-cash offers are expected to replace traditional cash bids as a consequence of the pandemic's impact on the clubs' balance sheets. The rumors surrounding shock swap deals involving some of the most highly-rated players have already overwhelmed the media all across Europe.
In this article, we have narrowed the selection down to the five mouth-watering swap deals that could take place this summer.
According to various reports across Europe, Barcelona have set their sights on the Manchester City misfit Joao Cancelo, who has flopped at the Etihad following his £60million arrival from Juventus. Indeed, the reigning Premier League holders dished out £27.4million plus Danilo to take the Portuguese right-back away from Serie A only last summer, making him the most expensive right-back in football history.
However, the 25-year-old has failed to overcome fierce competition from Kyle Walker, finding himself low in Pep Guardiola's pecking order. After registering just 11 Premier League appearances, the ex-Valencia man has been deemed an expendable asset and could be on his way back to La Liga, with Barcelona preparing a player-plus-cash offer that would see Nelson Semedo heading the opposite direction.
The former Benfica man has made almost 100 appearances for the Catalan outfit but has never really managed to adequately replace the legendary Dani Alves. With his current contract at the Camp Nou set to expire in less than two years, the current Spanish champions are eager to swap him for his fellow Portugal international colleague in the summer.
However, Cancelo's contract at City runs out in 2025, which would require Barca to add approximately £30million to compensate for the price difference. Cancelo has already expressed his desire to depart Manchester to seek regular first-team action, with Tottenham trying to secure his signature in January.
But, the ex-Inter Milan wing-back is familiar with Spain’s top flight, where he made a name for himself, which could give Quique Setien’s side an upper hand over Spurs in possible summer negotiations.
A possible exchange between Inter Milan and Napoli, involving Matias Vecino moving to Naples and Allan going the other way, emerged in January. Although the parties failed to find an agreement during the winter transfer window, that swap deal could take place in the summer, as per sources close to the Milanese outfit.
Vecino has been a regular under Antonio Conte this season, making 23 appearances across all competitions, but has struggled to make an impact.
Just three goals and two assists have been deemed insufficient by the always demanding Italian coach who is eager to bolster his midfield options ahead of the 2020-21 campaign. Although he has a contract at the Giuseppe Meazza running until 2022, the 28-year-old Uruguayan could leave as soon as the transfer window reopens in the summer, with Chelsea also looking to bring him to the Premier League.
But, the Nerazzurri are lining up a swap deal that includes Vecino to snap up the out-of-sorts Napoli midfielder, Allan. The 29-year-old box-to-box midfielder has fallen out of favour with Gennaro Gattuso. The Brazil international was handed just 14 minutes of Serie A action in the last six league fixtures before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped world football.
Allan belongs to the group of Napoli players who didn’t take the club’s decision to part company with the former boss Carlo Ancelotti well.
Indeed, the Brazilian took a stand against the Partenopei bigwig, Aurelio De Laurentiis, who pulls all the strings at the San Paolo. His bust-up with the club's owner may as well mean the ex-Udinese player is counting down his days in Naples.
Juventus hold a long-term interest in the Manchester United wantaway midfielder Paul Pogba, whom they tried to bring back to Turin last summer. But, the Red Devils were adamant the World Cup-winner is indispensable and eventually managed to fend off the Bianconeri interest. The French playmaker has, however, struggled to live up to his £89million fee since rejoining United in 2016 and could finally leave the Theatre of Dreams at the end of the season.
One the other hand, the perennial Serie A champions' admiration for their former star has never diminished.
They are ready to make a new offer as soon as the transfer window reopens in the summer. The media in England echoed the rumours originally surfaced in Italy suggesting that Juve are assessing the possibility of inserting Paulo Dybala as a makeweight in the deal to snap up Pogba.
The 26-year-old Argentinean, who was on the verge of leaving Juventus last summer, only to see his transfer to Tottenham collapse at the eleventh hour, has managed to re-establish himself at Turin and is enjoying a revival under Maurizio Sarri this term. Still, determined to beat Real Madrid to Pogba's signature, Juve are ready to sacrifice the left-footed forward.
Meanwhile, Mino Raiola has been working hard over the past few months to broker his client's departure from Old Trafford, with the Allianz Stadium emerging as the player's favorite destination. Pogba would favour a return to the Apennines over a switch to the Bernabeu, as he enjoyed the most successful years of his career in Italy.
Although Pogba’s price tag took a downward curve as a consequence of an injury-plagued season, Juventus would still have to fork out an additional £55million to get the deal over the line, as per reports.
Heavily linked with a return to his homeland with Bayern Munich, Manchester City’s Leroy Sane could be a subject of a massive player-plus-cash deal this summer. A £100million bid was hanging in the balance last summer before the winger picked up a nasty anterior cruciate ligament injury in August that has kept him on the sidelines for the entire 2019-20 campaign.
Yet, after returning to training in January, the 24-year-old was on the verge of completing his long-awaited comeback before the coronavirus pandemic halted the Premier League season.
After giving up on a big-money move, the Bavarians have devised a new strategy, particularly in light of the ongoing crisis that threatens to cause a financial collapse in world football. According to reports, the perennial German champions plan to launch a massive bid that would mean David Alaba switching to the Premier League.
Although the English heavyweights see Sane as an integral part of their long-term plans, the player has been reluctant to pledge his future to the Etihad and harbours ambitions to return to his native Germany.
The former Schalke 04 forward already turned down City’s attempt to tie him down with a new deal as part of his efforts to force a move to Bayern. Considering the fact Sane’s current contract is due to expire in summer 2021, the Citizens may have to reassess the prospect of renouncing the German now in order to avoid the risk of letting him go without compensation next summer.
Alaba could be the enticement Pep Guardiola needs to give the green light, as the Spaniard holds the versatile Austrian defender in high esteem. The pair worked together during the 49-year-old’s three-year tenure at the Allianz Arena, and Guardiola has never hidden his affection for the 27-year-old left-back.
Although predominantly a left-back, Alaba is also comfortable playing as a central defender and a left-winger, which perfectly suits the ex-Barcelona manager’s constant squad rotations.
A long-standing transfer saga regarding Neymar's return to Barcelona could finally find its conclusion at the end of the season. The Brazilian has been desperate to reunite with his former Catalan teammates ever since completing a world-record €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, and his dream could be fulfilled this summer.
Barcelona laid the groundwork for Neymar's return to Camp Nou ahead of 2019-20, applying constant pressure on Paris Saint-Germain throughout last summer to sanction the move. Despite their previous efforts coming a cropper, the Catalans will try to rectify their past mistakes by proposing a swap deal to the Parisians. The Catalans are confident that Antoine Griezmann's involvement in the arrangement would help to soften PSG's stance and push the deal through.
The 29-year-old realized his long-awaited switch to Catalonia last summer, with Barca splurging €120million to steal him away from Atletico Madrid. However, Griezmann has never managed to rediscover his old form at the Camp Nou, failing to develop an on-field understanding with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
His inability to settle into his new environment could see the World Cup-winner move on this summer, with Paris emerging as one of the likeliest destinations.
PSG are desperate to keep hold of the French rising star, Kylian Mbappe, and would, therefore, accept Neymar’s departure as long as it means they are able to retain the 21-year-old forward. The Brazilian’s impact on his younger colleague has been regarded as ‘harmful,’ according to some reports, which gives the Parisians another reason to sanction the move.
Thomas Tuchel is preparing a squad overhaul in the summer, and he demands Griezmann to be included in any deal to send Neymar back to La Liga. Although he won the World Cup with France, the highly-rated forward has never played senior football in his homeland. A prospect of playing for the best French side at the moment could be too tempting to resist if an opportunity arises.