Alexis Sanchez has already collected one goal, one assist and one MOTM award, in three appearances for Manchester United thus far.
New Arsenal signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan, on the other hand, won the MOTM award himself for setting up three goals in his first start. While it’s too early to gauge their worth for either club, it’s safe to say that all four parties – or five, if you count super-agent Mino Raiola – involved ought to now feel contented that the swap deal has gone through.
This isn’t the first time Arsenal and United have done business, with big names such as Robin van Persie, Frank Stapleton, David Herd and George Graham turning up for either side during various eras. This is the first transfer between these clubs in almost a decade, with Mikael Silvestre’s underwhelming move from Old Trafford to London preceding it, and this is the first of its kind: a straight swap.
Big Premier League clubs, unlike their Serie A counterparts in Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus, hardly ever exchange players with each other, with the William Gallas-Ashley Cole swap between Arsenal and Chelsea being the sole outlier. The Arsenal-United swap will, however, likely start a trend not just in England but also in the rest of Europe, just like betting in China.
The Arsenal-United deal wasn’t the only swap that was rumoured to be afoot in the final few weeks of the January transfer window. David Luiz was reported to be a make-weight in Chelsea’s bid to sign Olivier Giroud. Juventus made efforts to convince Liverpool to exchange Emre Can for Marko Pjaca.
Florentino Perez is reportedly willing to sacrifice Raphael Varane or Cristiano Ronaldo to sign Thibaut Courtois or David de Gea over the summer. The possibility of Eden Hazard moving to Real Madrid with Marco Asensio moving the other way has also been talked up in the recent days. Although most of these rumours sound fabricated, it’s true that there’s no smoke without fire.
The sheer number of rumoured swap deals clearly underscores the rise in the popularity of swaps. Clubs seem to favour swaps more than they did a couple of years ago thanks to the transfer-market inflation.
Defenders Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Aymeric Laporte all cost their clubs £50 million or above, and even frugal Tottenham Hotspur had to shell out £42 million to sign 21-year-old centre-back Davinson Sanchez. Signing a decent defensive midfielder for £40 million is seen as shrewd business. £50 million is gradually becoming the new £10 million.
Although the rise in transfer fee is only directly proportional to the clubs’ revenue, few club owners will cherish the frequent outflow of such heavy amounts.
The managers, meanwhile, cannot be blamed for looking to make more number of signings than their predecessors did when the top flight was still called First Division. The short-termism – the obligation to produce immediate results – has resulted in the gaffers sometimes relying on the vibrancy and positivity that comes with a new big signing.
Even when a Ford Fiesta does the job, upgrading to Ford Focus is guaranteed to excite the Fiesta’s owner even if it means he has give up his Fiesta, and that’s the kind of excitement most big clubs seem to have at any point in time these days.
For instance, although Arsenal had thrashed Crystal Palace less than a fortnight earlier, their cruising to a similar win with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang upfront had a good number of fans claiming that this was the first time they’d seen Wengerball in eight years. That positivity – buy it or not! – is certain to be a crucial catalyst in Arsenal’s hunt for a Champions League spot.
This perennial hunger for positivity and the adoption of short-term mentality by the big clubs will, thus, see big English clubs do swaps at least more frequently than swap specialists Inter Milan do.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @PraveenR_P
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